How to Test for Dementia

Some elderly people experience dementia.
Some elderly people experience dementia. (Image: old man image by Deborah Benbrook from

Dementia concerns problems that occur when the brain is not functioning properly. Symptoms of dementia include asking the same question more than once, becoming lost in a familiar place, not following directions properly, loss of what time it is and other neglectful behavior (see link in References). Dementia is caused by an underlying condition. Some cannot be corrected and others are treatable. For example, Alzheimer’s disease and multi-infarct disease are irreversible, but dementia caused by high fever, a head injury or dehydration can be easily treated (see link in References). The best option when confronted with signs of dementia is to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Make a doctor’s appointment to determine if you are experiencing signs of dementia. A dementia test will then be performed to find the cause if it does appear to the doctor that you have dementia after doing a simple check up.

Have a cognitive and neuropsychological test performed. This consists of the doctor testing your memory, language skills and other mental abilities in cognitive reactions (see link in References). This type of dementia test is typically performed to determine the stage of disease.

Go through the recommended brain scan tests for the doctor to study a visual X-ray of your brain. For example, the common dementia tests include the computed tomography scan (CT) and the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test.

Complete all other dementia tests assigned by the doctor, which will most likely consist of more brain scans. More tests like a single photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT) test and positron emission tomography (PET) test that evaluate various metabolisms in your brain may be performed if previous dementia tests were inconclusive or showed the possibility of mental disease (see link in References).

Have a full psychiatric evaluation, which may be required by your health care provider. This includes extensive cognitive testing and testing of your overall mental state. The psychiatrist may look more closely to see if possible signs of depression are in correlation with your signs of dementia.

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