There is no single test
for dementia. To diagnose it, your doctor will:
- Do a physical exam.
- Ask questions
about recent and past illnesses and life events. The doctor will want to talk
to a close family member to check details.
- Ask you to do some
simple things that test your memory and other mental skills. Your doctor may
ask you to tell what day and year it is, repeat a series of words, or draw a
The doctor may do tests to look for a cause that can be
treated. For example, you might have blood tests to check your thyroid or to
look for an infection. You might also have a test that shows a picture of your
brain, like an
MRI or a
CT scan. These tests can help your doctor find a tumor
or brain injury.
There are medicines you can
take for dementia. They cannot cure it, but they can slow it down for a while
and make it easier to live with.
As dementia gets worse, a person
may get depressed or angry and upset. An active social life, counseling, and sometimes medicine may help with changing emotions.
If a stroke caused the dementia, there are things you can
do to reduce the chance of another stroke. Make healthy lifestyle changes including eating healthy, being active, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking. Manage other health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
are many things you can do to help your loved one be safe at home. For example,
get rid of throw rugs, and put handrails in bathrooms to help prevent falls.
Post reminder notes around the house. Put a list of important phone numbers by
the telephone. You also can help your loved one stay active. Play cards or
board games, and take walks.
Work with your loved one to make
decisions about the future before dementia gets worse. It is important to write
living will and a
durable power of attorney. A living will states the
types of medical care your loved one wants. A durable power of attorney lets
your loved one pick someone to be the
health care agent. This person makes care decisions
after your loved one cannot.
Watching a loved one slip away can
be sad and scary. Caring for someone with dementia can leave you feeling
drained. Be sure to take care of yourself and to give yourself breaks. Ask
family members to share the load, or get other help.
one will need more and more care as dementia gets worse. In time, he or she may
need help to eat, get dressed, or use the bathroom. You may be able to give
this care at home, or you may want to think about using a nursing home. A
nursing home can give this kind of care 24 hours a day. The time may come when
a nursing home is the best choice.
You are not alone. Many
people have loved ones with dementia. Ask your doctor about local support
groups, or search the Internet for online support groups, such as the
Alzheimer's Association. Help is available.