There are many treatable conditions which display the same symptoms as dementia, including some infections or depression. Getting to the bottom of what is causing the memory problems can enable you to access the right advice, treatment and support which is why many people seek a diagnosis.
The first step toward getting a diagnosis will be to have an assessment. The professional who carries this out might be your GP, a geriatrician, a mental health specialist and/or a neurologist. This might include a range of different conversations and medical tests.
- You will likely be invited to share your history with your GP, dating back to when the symptoms started. People often chose to include a friend or family member in these conversations.
- There may also be health checks including blood tests, which can help to determine if there are other causes for the symptoms e.g. an infection.
- There may be tests to assess your memory and other cognitive functions including puzzles and memory games.
The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, as well as changes in mood or behaviour. These symptoms are often less apparent to begin with, but over time can become harder to manage. Dementia symptoms are often caused by Alzheimer’s disease or brain damage caused by a stroke. The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that is causing the dementia.