Ways & How

how to detect dementia

how to detect dementia

Dementia is an irreversible mental disorder that affects both the cognitive and motor skills of aging persons. In short, the brain is no longer functioning well. Being forgetful and the inability to perform instructions are simple signs of dementia. Before we can address the problem correctly, let us study first how to detect dementia. Because of the dysfunction of the brain tissues, the memory of an afflicted person will gradually deteriorate. This is medically termed as the cerebral cortex. The disorder may strike directly to the cortex of the brain and cause damage to the subcortical areas that regulate the function of the cortex. Irreversible dementia involves damage to the cortical and subcortical areas, which is incurable. Examples are Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Vascular, and Parkinson’s, Pick Disease, Lewey body and Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease. On the other hand, reversible dementia is treatable in nature. The usual causes of reversible dementia include head injury, infections, normal pressure hydrocephalus, simple hydrocephalus, brain tumor, toxic exposure, metabolic disorders, hormone disorders, poor oxygenation, drug reactions, alcoholism and nutritional deficiencies.

To detect dementia, a series of tests may be administered on the patient.

  1. Neurological exam. A specialist will review the patient’s medical history and other previous diagnoses before conducting the neurological examination. The purpose of the exam is to check and ascertain the person’s balance, reflexes and sensory functions.

  2. Laboratory tests. These tests are for serum evaluations, electrocardiography, blood cell count, liver test and toxicology. These tests, before they can be conducted, must be recommended by a specialist. The same must be administered by an expert. Just be prudent and do not be a victim of a wrong diagnosis.

  3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography Scan (CT scan). Both MRI and CT scan tests, although fairly expensive, can identify changes in the brain structure in cases of strokes, Alzheimer's and brain tumors that can cause dementia.

  4. Memory test. This is a practical way of testing someone’s memory. Subject the person to a memory test by giving him or her names of places, persons, events and time. Allow the person to recall at least three from each category after the lapse of five minutes. If he or she is able to name them, the person’s memory is not yet impaired. If not, such is a probable symptom of dementia. This test can be done by any family member.

  5. Reasoning and judgment test. Give the person a simple issue to resolve and listen to his or her reasons and judgment on the matter. This test will determine the cognitive abilities of the patient. Like the memory test, this test can also be done at home by the members of the family.

  6. Undergo an X-ray procedure. This medical procedure will take a view of the head and find out if there are cracks on the skull or any irregularity in the head. This is very relevant when the cause of dementia is a head injury.

  7. Undergo Single Photon-Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). On one hand, the SPECT exam generates a high resolution image of the brain through a radiotracer known as TC99m. The produced high resolution images will allow the brain specialists to see the small structures within the brain. The PET exam, on the other hand, uses a special camera and radioactive chemical tracer to see how the organs work in the body. The PET compliments other medical procedures such SPECT, CT scans and MRI.

  8. Psychiatric evaluation. This evaluation is done by a professional. The process involves a comprehensive cognitive testing of the overall state of the brain. The psychiatrist will check for possible signs of depression, which can also be correlated with the signs of dementia.

These are the different ways on how to detect dementia. When dementia is detected at the onset, proper treatment can be done immediately to slow down the progression of the disorder, or arrest its development when the type of dementia is reversible.


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