In order to make a dementia diagnosis, doctors will need to rule out any treatable conditions. A diagnosis of dementia means that at least two brain functions are significantly impaired without loss of consciousness. An early, accurate dementia diagnosis is important for patients and their families because it allows for early treatment of dementia symptoms. Diagnosing dementia typically begins with asking the patient a number of questions; this is usually followed by a physical exam and certain tests (such as CT scans, MRIs, and lab tests).
Doctors employ a number of strategies to diagnose dementia. A doctor diagnosing dementia usually begins by asking a number of questions concerning the patient's history. This is typically followed by a physical exam and then certain tests and procedures. Doctors diagnose dementia only if two or more brain functions -- such as memory and language skills -- are significantly impaired without loss of consciousness.
An early, accurate dementia diagnosis is important for patients and their families because in some cases (up to 10 percent), the cause of dementia is reversible (such as normal pressure hydrocephalus, a brain tumor, or B12 deficiency). If these types of dementia can be diagnosed in their earliest stages, it allows for early treatment of dementia symptoms and possibly reversing the dementia or stopping its progression. For people with Alzheimer's disease or other progressive dementias, an early diagnosis may allow them to plan for the future while they can still help to make decisions. People with dementia may also benefit from drug treatment.