If a form of dementia is suspected, the doctor will order a series of diagnostic testings to be performed that may include the following:
This is an evaluation of the nervous system:
The doctor will ask questions and have your loved one perform simple tasks to evaluate:
The most commonly administered exam is the Mini-Mental State Exam, which assesses several areas of mental wellness:
Similar tests include the 6-question Blessed Orientation Memory Concentration test (evaluates awareness of time, short term memory, and thought) and the Clock Drawing Task, which involves drawing the face of a clock with all the numbers and the hands to set at a certain time.
The doctor may also order brain "scans," which are basically pictures of the brain. There may be no evidence of early dementia in these scans, but later in the disease process, changes in the brain may be seen. The doctor may also use these tests to rule out another possible cause for your loved one’s symptoms. These tests are often used if vascular dementia is suspected. Types of brain scans include:
A blood and urine sample will be taken to:
Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This flow chart shows the steps in making a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and the diagnostic procedures used. Different causes of memory loss are also discussed, including Alzheimer's, depression, medication-induced dementia, endocrine and nutritional disorders, and others.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
Description: This detailed medical article discusses aspects of making a diagnosis of dementia, including a guide to differential diagnosis in the form of a flow chart. The article is written for physicians.