Dementia Test. Does Mom have Dementia?
What is dementia, and how can it be tested for? Dementia is actually a description of symptoms, not a disease. It is imperative to rule out treatable causes. Some of the more common symptoms that occur are – a loss of higher level functioning, impeding the ability to perform everyday tasks. Forgetting your favorite recipe is not unusual- forgetting where the kitchen in your house is . Inability to control emotions- becoming violently angry when the car keys are misplaced. This article informs you of most of the major symptoms, tests that can be done , and medications that may be able to help.
We have already discussed two of the most common symptoms. In no particular order, the remaining seven are: 1. Inability to problem solve. 2.Personality changes. 3.Having delusions, becoming agitated, or seeing and hearing things that are not present. 4. Loss of language. 5. Memory issues. 6. Not knowing the date and time, where they are, or recognizing people. 7. Lack of good diet, personal hygiene, and disregard for safety.
Dementia testing at the MD.
At the M.D.’s, they will usually start by asking about the different symptoms. Accuracy is essential. Information needed may include dates you noticed the behavior, how often it occurs, if anything seems to “trigger” the behavior. A general physical will be done to rule out medical problems. Alzheimer and vascular dementia is not curable, so addressing treatable issues is imperative. The Mini-Mental State Exam (copyrighted) can assess the patients ability to maintain attention, follow simple commands, name objects, and write.
Laboratory tests may include- CBC to rule out kidney failure, infection, and other treatable problems.Hb A1c- to rule out diabetes. Urinalysis- rule out infection. Toxicology screening- illicit drugs and prescribed medications, taken incorrectly, can cause symptoms.Thyroid testing- is the hypothalamus secreting appropriate TSH, and are the T3 and T4 levels normal? These can all be treated and cured, and may significantly improve function.
Brain scans -CT scans, MRI, EEG’s,PET and SPECT all reveal differing types of damage or issues within the brain itself, and how it functions. The MD may also request a psychiatric examination to determine if depression or some other mental disorder is causing the symptoms.
Types of dementia tested, results, and treatment
There are about a dozen different causes of dementia. Alzheimers, Vascular, Lewy body, Crutzfeldt-Jakob disease are some of the more common. They all vary in symptoms, progression of disease, and treatment.
There are four cholinesterase inhibitors and one neurotransmitter,which affects the glutamate in the brain, that are FDA approved for use in Alzheimer . There is some proof that using both types of medications together may improve function better than a single drug alone.
Vascular dementia treatment revolves around the underlying causes. Bringing hypertension, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and high cholesterol under control may slow down the progress of the dementia. Preventing TIA’s or strokes will prevent a rapid decline in function. Lewy Body dementia is treated symptomatically. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease treatment focuses on pain control and relieving symptoms.There is also a wide variety of medications to addres specific conditions- seizures, imsomnia, agitation, etc.
There is research being conducted now to determine if simple tests( being able to match nouns with an image) can helps predict who will suffer from dementia later. One study seemed to show a verbally administered exam when combined with an olfactory identification test can help predict sufferers. Huntington disease has a genetic link to dementia, so that may of some use in people who a family history of dementia .In effect, dementia testing before symptoms present is not useful.