Tests Often Used to Diagnose Dementia in Aging Adults

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Tests that Can Determine if a Senior Has Dementia in Massachusetts

There’s no single test that can be done to tell if a senior has dementia. The process of coming to this conclusion is often one that involves eliminating other possible sources of memory loss and other dementia-like symptoms. Several different tests and evaluations are often done to make a determination of whether an aging adult has dementia. Below, you’ll find a rundown of some of the most common ones.

Medical Tests

From vitamin deficiencies and urinary tract infections to thyroid problems and issues with medications being taken for other reasons, there are several possible medical reasons for dementia-like symptoms. Many of these are often treatable or manageable with medication, medication changes, or lifestyle adjustments. Medical testing for the purpose of a dementia evaluation normally involves:

• Reviewing medical history and conducting a physical examination
• Checking blood and urine for infections and other underlying health issues
• Testing coordination, muscle tone, eye movement, speech, and basic reflexes

Your loved one may also be asked about the nature of the symptoms, such as when they first started and whether they seem to be worsening. If you’re already acting as a caregiver, you may also be asked to share your input about symptoms.

No matter what’s causing your loved one’s symptoms, a professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for the whole family. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Wellesley Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Laboratory Tests

Blood, urine, and other fluids are typically collected to run a series of lab tests. In some instances, more advanced tests may be ordered to check for hormone imbalances or other abnormalities that could suggest an underlying health issue is contributing to symptoms.

Neurological Tests

CT and MRI scans are usually done as part of neurological testing to determine if a senior has dementia. Image tests of the brain can also determine if there are signs of a tumor or previously undetected stroke that may be responsible for cognitive impairment or other dementia-like symptoms.

Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Wellesley 24-hour care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life. 

Cognitive Tests

The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Mini-Cog test are the two most common cognitive tests used during dementia evaluations. The purpose of both of these tests is to look at skills such as thought processing, logic, and other everyday mental skills. The MMSE is a series of questions, while the Mini-Cog test is a simple three-item recall test that also includes a timed drawing test.

Mental Health Screenings

Dementia-like symptoms sometimes develop if an older adult has an undiagnosed mental health condition, such as depression. To determine if this may be the case, a psychological evaluation may be done to look for depression, anxiety-based conditions, or other mental health or mood disorders.

Hearing & Vision Tests

Hearing-related problems and issues with vision sometimes contribute to symptoms mistaken for dementia in older adults. To confirm or rule out this possibility, your loved one may be advised to go through standard hearing and eye examinations and related tests.

Genetic Tests

Certain genetic abnormalities or markers have been identified that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. However, this type of testing isn’t normally part of the evaluation process for dementia. In some instances, it may be recommended if a senior has a family history of dementia. 

If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, you don’t have to face the challenges alone. Families looking for top-rated at-home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. Call Home Care Assistance at (781) 239-0060 to learn more about our flexible and customizable senior care plans.


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