Dementia

Diagnosis & Tests

See A Geriatrician

If you or someone you care for are having problems with memory, thinking, or behavior that are getting worse, see a geriatrician. A geriatrician is a doctor who has special training in caring for older adults. Geriatric nurse practitioners can also help you.

If you are the one having these problems, bring a relative or close friend with you to your appointment. If someone you know is having these problems, it's best if you or another relative or close friend go with them to the appointment. They can help make sure that the healthcare professional has accurate information.

Medical Assessment

To decide whether an older adult may have dementia, a healthcare professional will:

  • Ask about the person’s medical and social history.
  • Review all medications that the person is taking.  This includes all prescription drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins, and supplements the person takes. These might cause changes in mental abilities, mood, and behavior.  Bring a list of these items to your appointment.
  • Do a complete physical exam that includes blood and other lab tests to check for underlying problems and reversible causes, such as infections, vitamin B12 deficiency, and thyroid problems. Ask questions about changes in the person’s physical and mental abilities and behavior.
  • Test the person’s attention, memory, thinking, language, and decision-making skills.
  • Recommend brain scans, if necessary, to look for problems, such as brain tumors.

The healthcare professional may also consider evaluation for other health problems that could affect cognitive abilities, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

If needed, make sure that that either the healthcare professional you see, or someone on the staff, speaks your primary language and can help you during your visit.

 

Last Updated February 2023