If you recognise that you or someone close to you is experiencing changes with memory, communication, personality or behaviour you should consult a GP for an assessment. Your GP will be able to rule out any conditions where the symptoms present as dementia but are not.  Vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid problems, infections, stress and depression can all have an impact on someone's memory or brain function.  

The process of getting a diagnosis may be frightening or overwhelming and there are some people who put off having an assessment as they are scared of the results, however for a lot of people the diagnosis can give them a sense of relief as they have an explanation for why not only their behaviour or memory is changing but also the way they feel.  The diagnosis can enable you to receive the best treatment and support available, helping family to understand how they can help whilst also supporting you with finances, legal matters and making decisions for both the present and the future.  

Before a dementia assessment can take place the GP will check for underlying conditions and will carry out an examination as well as blood test.  They will also establish when the symptoms began, severity of the symptoms and how it has an impact on your day to day life.  We would advise that you do not attend this appointment alone, take someone who regularly sees you for support, they can also explain to the GP if there are any significant changes that they have noticed.  

The GP will ask you to state the day of the week, date, complete a drawing, name a common item from a picture and remember and repeat items to assess concentration and short term memory.  After this assessment if all other underlying conditions have been eliminated you may then be referred for further investigation at a memory clinic or with a specialist.  The memory clinic/specialist will gather the medical and family history and then assess cognitive abilities by carrying out a mental state examination or cognitive testing.  This will be made up of memory, language, attention and visuospatial testing and the specialist will also ask questions about how you manage with everyday tasks such as shopping, housework, driving and self-care.  

It is likely that the memory service will request for an MRI or CT scan to take place to ensure that there are no abnormalities in the brain.  

If you would like any further information on getting a diagnosis and how the process works please give us a call on 01474 533990 or email [email protected]