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HealthInfo Canterbury

Tests and diagnosis for dementia

What should I do if I think a relative or friend has dementia?

If you are worried that someone close to you may have dementia, encourage them to see their doctor. They may agree for you to come along to the appointment too. If you are having trouble convincing them to see a doctor, you could suggest they have a check-up, for example, for a symptom that the person acknowledges they have, such as failing eyesight, headaches, or a medication review.

Tests and diagnosis

There is no straightforward test for dementia and a diagnosis is usually made by ruling out other medical conditions that might cause you to experience memory loss. These include depression, side effects of medication, infections, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid gland problems, and brain tumours.

Your doctor may examine you and ask you questions about your memory-related symptoms, your family history, and overall health and lifestyle. You may need to have a blood test and provide a urine sample for testing.

Other tests

Your doctor may suggest some special tests to look at your memory and mental ability. These do not take long and are usually a series of questions or other exercises that your doctor or practice nurse asks you to complete. Sometimes your doctor may also refer you for a brain scan.

On the next page: Living with dementia

Page reference: 5540

Review key: HIMLD-33325