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How is dementia diagnosed - video transcript

If you are worried about dementia, it is important to go see a doctor. Your doctor will use memory tests to identify any issues and may refer you to a specialist for further testing. Learn more about how dementia is diagnosed.

Video transcript

Jane

Peter - look, you've been pretty tired recently, and it's probably the reason why you don't remember anything so well, but I'm worried about you. Let's go see the doctor. Just have a checkup. Let's see what she thinks.

Peter

But I'm sleeping like a log. If it will make you happy, I'll go and see the doctor.

Professor Susan Kurrle

If there is a worry about memory problems, and about the possibility of dementia, it's important that the general practitioner uses a memory test such as the Mini Mental State Examination to screen for the possibility of dementia.

This doesn't diagnose the dementia, but it does mean something's up, and maybe there should be a referral to a specialist for further testing.

When we're looking to test someone for their memory to see if they have got an underlying dementia, we ask things like - do they know what day of the week it is? Do they know what year it is? Do they know where they are at the moment?

We also test their memory by giving them three or four words to remember, which we ask later. We get them to do some simple drawing, like drawing a clock face, to see if they're still able to remember how to put the numbers in and the hands in. And then we ask them if they remembered those three words we gave them earlier. So they're fairly simple tests initially. But if there is problems with those, then we need to dig a little deeper.

Peter

So the GP said it might be dementia, but then again, it might not. There are more tests to exclude other causes. And I have to see a specialist. I guess time will tell.

Professor Susan Kurrle

With people who you are worried about with dementia, it's important to make sure there isn't something else going on that can be corrected. And this is why your doctor might organise some blood tests. And also, perhaps, a CAT scan of the brain, looking to see if, perhaps, there's an underlying stroke or something else happening that can explain those changes.

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Last reviewed: January 2016

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