Perhaps, one of the greatest challenges families face is caring for their loved ones who suffer from dementia.
Even if today there are no specific tests to diagnose dementia, researchers have uncovered some ways to predict the early signs of this incurable disease. So, let’s take a look at them.
Make a doctor’s appointment
The other sections of this page contain tests that you can complete at your leisure. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these can provide some information if you don’t have any other options, but they are not a good substitute for a doctor’s diagnosis.
Gather Your Medical History
Certain medications and medical conditions can raise your risk. Similarly, a family history of dementia and other risk factors can increase your chances of developing dementia, though the disease isn’t always hereditary. It’s critical for your doctor to rule out conditions that can mimic dementia symptoms, such as depression, thyroid issues, and medication side effects that can affect your memory and thinking. If these conditions, rather than dementia, are causing your problems, you may be able to reverse your symptoms. Prepare to provide the following information to your doctor:
- Your diet, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Bring any medications you are taking with you.
- Other known medical problems.
- Behavior Modifications (especially related to social situations or eating habits).
- Which members of your biologically related family have dementia or dementia-like symptoms, if any?
Perform a Physical Examination
A blood pressure reading, a pulse check, and a temperature reading should all be part of your physical examination. Based on your symptoms, your doctor may also test your balance, reflexes, and eye movement, as well as perform a variety of other tests. This allows them to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms and make a more thorough diagnosis.
Take a Mental Test
There are several types of mental exams used to screen for dementia, some of which are discussed in this article. Among the frequently asked questions are:
- Specify the date, month, and year.
- Make a clock face with a time of twenty-eight.
- Count backward by 7s from 100.
If Necessary, Submit to Lab Tests
If your doctor does not suggest blood samples or other lab tests, you should inquire about thyroid hormone and vitamin B12 tests, as these are common tests that can help narrow down the cause of your symptoms. There are numerous other tests that could be ordered based on your medical history, but they are not required for every patient.
Inquire About Brain Scans
If you have some symptoms, but the cause is unknown, your doctor may recommend a brain scan to rule out other possibilities besides dementia. The most common types of scans used to help diagnose dementia-like symptoms are CT scans, MRI scans, and EEG tests. Keep in mind, however, that there is no definitive test for dementia.
The brain scan will be used by your doctor to rule out any other conditions.
If your doctor suggests an MRI, inform her of any implants or alterations that cannot be removed, such as tattoos, replacement joints, pacemakers, or shrapnel fragments.
Inquire About Genetic Testing
Genetic testing is contentious because even having a gene linked to an increased risk of dementia does not guarantee that you will be affected. Still, if your family has a history of dementia, particularly early-onset dementia, a genetic test may be beneficial to you or your doctor.
Bear in mind that genetic testing is a new and rapidly developing field of research. It’s possible that your findings will be ineffective. Similarly, insurance may not cover the test.
For more accurate information about testing dementia, I suggest consulting your doctor.