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Diagnosis of dementia

Dignity Health doctors diagnose dementia by obtaining a thorough family medical history and performing specialized neurological exams. The doctors assess your memory, attention span, and ability to solve simple problems. A comprehensive neuropsychology exam is often part of diagnosing dementia.

A neurologist may order certain lab and imaging tests as part of the diagnostic process. These help the doctor rule out causes of dementia-like symptoms and, in some cases, pinpoint the type of dementia. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of head
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

A dementia diagnosis relies on identifying loss of brain function, so the process may be lengthy as doctors wait for the disease to progress.

There is no cure for dementia. Doctors and other healthcare professionals focus on symptom treatment and prevention efforts. Treatment strategies revolve around reducing the severity of symptoms and preserving brain function. Treatment of dementia includes medications to improve cognition or stabilize mood. Assistance with activities of daily living, such as home health aides to assist with bathing and dressing, are often part of care as dementia progresses.

Not all types of dementia are preventable. Researchers believe engaging in brain-health activities reduces the risk of developing dementia, especially vascular dementia. Prevention strategies include eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities. Find out more by talking to our experts at Dignity Health, who provide prevention tips and personalized care for people with dementia in NV, AZ, and CA.