Dementia Web - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

DementiaWeb - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

Getting a Diagnosis

Why is a Diagnosis Important?

Different types of dementia have different treatments. Also, some people may experience dementia like symptoms caused by other conditions, such as thyroid problems, vitamin deficiency, or depression. It is crucial to get the right treatment, which is one of the reasons why getting a diagnosis is very important.

Getting a diagnosis also allows you to get appropriate support, make informed decisions, and start planning for the future. Many people wish to put their affairs in order after receiving a dementia diagnosis.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists public information leaflet Memory and Dementia has information about normal forgetfulness, as well as dementia, and tips on how to boost your memory.

How to get a Diagnosis

If you are worried that you, or someone close to you, may have dementia then the GP should be your first port of call.

Common symptoms of dementia may include memory problems, mood changes and communication difficulties. Some everyday tasks may also become more difficult, or disorientation might be experienced (e.g. getting lost on a familiar journey).

As well as listening to your concerns, for example about memory problems, your GP is likely to want to conduct some tests. These may include blood tests, urine tests, chest x-ray, and an MMSE (Mini Mental State Examination) test. The MMSE test often makes people feel they are being asked lots of silly questions, but is actually a standardised test that allows doctors to assess how severe memory problems are. The other tests, such as blood and urine, allow your doctor to exclude conditions which can cause similar symptoms to dementia.

If your GP thinks you may have a form of dementia they are likely to refer you to a specialist for further assessment. In Oxfordshire this referral would usually be to one of the Memory Clinics. If you feel you would like to see the specialist, but your GP does not offer to refer you, then you can ask your GP to make this referral.

The specialist will usually conduct further tests. These are likely to include a repeat of the MMSE test, and they may also order a brain scan, if they think this is required.

Further information is available in the Alzheimer's Society Diagnosis and Assessment Factsheet.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some people have problems with their memory, but do not actually have dementia. For more information read the Alzheimer's Society Mild Cognitive Impairment Factsheet. : funded and managed by Guideposts with support from the Big Lottery Fund