If a doctor suspects a person has diabetes, they run a blood test.

To check for cancer, they might take a biopsy.

Dementia is different.

Diagnosing dementia and its type can be challenging because no single test can be done to determine if a person has dementia.

So, how is dementia diagnosed? Keep reading to learn more about dementia and how the various types of dementia are diagnosed.

How Dementia Is Diagnosed

Because there is no one test to determine if a senior has dementia, doctors diagnose dementia based on an evaluation of a number of factors.

Some factors may include:

  • Medical History: An evaluation of medical history, including any previous diagnoses, medications, and any family history of dementia will be done to determine if dementia could explain symptoms.
  • Physical Examination: Physicians will complete a physical examination to check for any physical signs of conditions that may cause dementia, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Cognitive And Neurological Assessments: Tests will be performed to assess cognitive function, including memory, language skills, and problem-solving abilities. Physicians may also perform a neurological exam to check for any abnormalities in the nerves or muscles.
  • Brain Scans: Brain imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI can be used to get a detailed view of the brain and look for any abnormalities that may indicate dementia.
  • Laboratory Tests: Blood tests or other laboratory tests can check for any underlying medical conditions that may be causing dementia-related symptoms.

Doctors are able to determine that a person has dementia based on these evaluations. In many cases though, the symptoms and brain changes of different dementias can overlap, so it can be difficult to determine exactly what type of dementia a person has.

It is not uncommon for a doctor to diagnose simply dementia, and not specify a type.

Sometimes the dementia will need to progress a bit further before a final diagnosis can be made on the type of dementia. Other times a specialist such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or geriatrician is able to narrow down the type of dementia easier.

Symptoms Of Dementia

In addition to these common factors, doctors will also use the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day function and overall behavioral to diagnose dementia. That’s why it’s so important to know the common signs and symptoms of dementia, so you can watch for these symptoms in yourself or a loved one.

Some common symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty With Language
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in Mood or Behavior
  • Difficulty With Daily Activities
  • Attention
  • Reasoning
  • Vision

Unfortunately, symptoms and signs of dementia are often ignored because people assume that a decline in cognitive function is common in seniors. But dementia is not a normal part of aging.

If you or your loved one is experiencing serious cognitive decline, memory impairments or changes in behavior that affect daily life, contact your medical provider.