Dementia Diagnosis

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Dr. Duncan Miller, B. Sc, MD, discusses the diagnosis of dementia.

Dr. Duncan Miller, B. Sc, MD, discusses the diagnosis of dementia.

Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Duncan Miller, BSc, MD

Duration: 1 minute, 52 seconds

There are other types of dementia that are less common, for example, that caused by chronic alcohol use or infection with fairly obscure particles like Creutzfeldt-Jakob's disease.

In order to determine what's going on, in addition to the blood test that I've talked about earlier, your primary health care provider may consider imaging of your brain with either a CAT scan or an MRI to see if there's a physical change in the brain. But it's also important to undergo some testing with different cognitive tests and the most commonly used ones are called a modified mini-mental status exam or the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

The one thing that's important to remember about dementia is that there's no cure and this condition gradually gets worse, and not only affects the patient, but their loved one. And the – it's important not only to treat the individual that's affected but all of those around them and have a good support team.

There are several medications that can be used to slow the progress of the condition. So, whereas if you think of it analogously that this is how your brain function might deteriorate without this medication if you had Alzheimer's, using the medication will lessen the decline. But, unfortunately, your brain will continue to deteriorate.

If you have any questions at all about dementia, or if you're concerned that a loved one of yours may be showing signs of dementia, please, contact your primary healthcare provider. Just remember that treatment for your condition will vary with the individual and the condition they may have, so always consult your primary healthcare provider for more information.

Presenter: Dr. Duncan Miller, Family Doctor, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Family Doctor

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Quiz: Do You Understand Dementia?


Dementia isn’t just one condition.


Dementia isn’t just one condition - it’s a term that refers to symptoms that cause a decline in mental ability that interferes with daily life. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.


Alzheimer's disease is not a type of dementia.


In addition to Alzheimer's, some of the other things that can cause dementia include previous or new brain infections, a bad head injury, stroke or multiple sclerosis. There are some treatable conditions that can produce similar symptoms to dementia, such as thyroid disease, vitamin deficiencies, mental illness or sleep disorders.


Visual perception is a core mental function that can be impaired by dementia.


To have dementia, at least two of these core mental functions must be significantly impaired: memory, visual perception, reasoning and judgment, ability to focus or problem-solve and language and communication.


There is one test that can diagnose dementia.


There isn’t one test to diagnose dementia. A physician will usually do a physical examination, ask health history questions, test memory and recommend a blood test, MRI or CT scan. He or she will probably double check symptoms and answers with a loved one as well.


There is no cure for dementia.


Dementia treatment may include medications to slow progression, but they’re not a cure. Counselling, family support and social programs can help people and their loved ones deal with dementia.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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