Get tests and investigations
Your doctor may arrange a number of tests and investigations, including a cognitive screening test, to find the cause of your changes.
Doctors use a range of tests and investigations to help them make a diagnosis.
The doctor may give you a cognitive screening test which can take up to 10 minutes. Cognitive screening tests measure cognitive (thinking) abilities such as memory, concentration, spatial awareness, problem solving, counting and language. The most common cognitive screening test is called the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).
You might also see a psychologist or neuropsychologist for more detailed cognitive testing. This might take one to three hours. These cognitive tests tend to be more sensitive to memory and thinking changes than cognitive screening tests. They also test a broader range of memory and thinking skills.
Blood and urine tests
Blood and urine tests and used to rule out other health conditions that may be causing the changes such as:
- Electrolyte balance (salt and water)
- Liver function
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Thyroid function
- Drug interactions and dosing problems.
A brain scan shows us changes in the brain.
Scans used for dementia diagnosis are:
- Computerised Tomography (CT) scan – these show tumours, strokes, and brain shrinkage
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan – these show tumours, strokes, brain shinkage and more subtle brain changes such as blood vessel damage
- Amyloid Positron Emission Tomography (PET) shows amyloid plaques in the brain, which in large amounts suggest Alzheimer’s dementia.
For more information on other tests and scans that may be used in the diagnosis of dementia, visit Dementia Australia.
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