How Do Doctors Test People for Dementia?

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What Types of Tests Can Indicate Dementia in Des Moines, IA

“Dementia” is an umbrella term that includes many different types of the condition, with the most common one being Alzheimer’s disease. As far as making a diagnosis of dementia goes, it’s often a process of elimination and a steady narrowing down of possibilities based on results from various tests and assessments. Here’s a closer look at the types of tests that may indicate dementia.

Tests for Treatable Underlying Conditions

The first step typically taken is to perform various tests to look for treatable underlying health issues that could be producing dementia-like symptoms. For example, abnormal thyroid levels and vitamin deficiencies can affect cognitive function. However, both of these issues can be addressed well with medication and lifestyle changes. Following a medical history review and physical exam, tests performed to look for underlying issues often include: • Blood and urine tests • Balance, sensory response, and reflex testing • CT scans, nerve conduction studies, and other neurological tests No matter what’s causing your loved one’s symptoms, a professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for the whole family. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Des Moines Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Cognitive Tests

Tests falling under this category evaluate and assess a wide range of cognitive capabilities. One such test often performed is the Mini-Cog test, a three-minute recall test that also includes a scored and timed drawing test. Additional cognitive testing may be done to evaluate language, memory, and problem-solving skills.

Laboratory Tests

The purpose of basic lab tests is to check for hormone imbalances and other internal issues that can be detected in blood or urine. More advanced lab tests are sometimes performed based on initial results. For instance, a cerebrospinal fluid analysis may be done to look for infections that could be affecting the brain. In some instances, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be done as well to look for abnormal markers associated with certain types of dementia.

Brain Scans

A brain scan is done to look for signs of a tumor, evidence of a stroke, or other abnormalities that could be causing dementia-like symptoms. A brain scan is typically done with one of three tests: • A computed tomography (CT) scan that generates X-ray images • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at all internal structures, including nerves and other key parts of the brain • A positron emission tomography (PET) scan to obtain a series of pictures of brain-related activities Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Des Moines 24-hour care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.

Psychiatric Tests

Depression and various anxiety disorders that have gone undetected and untreated are other possible sources of symptoms that can mimic dementia. For this reason, it’s common for psychiatric testing to be done in addition to the various physical tests and evaluations already mentioned.

Genetic Tests

Some forms of dementia may be indicated by hereditary factors that can be detected with genetic testing. This type of testing isn’t always deemed necessary, especially if there’s already enough evidence to make a fairly certain diagnosis of dementia. It’s more likely to be recommended if there’s a family history of dementia or a need to confirm a certain type of dementia is present. If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, you don’t have to do it alone. Families looking for top-rated at-home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional home care for your loved one. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438.


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