Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Memory loss and other dementia symptoms have many causes, so diagnosing dementia and other related conditions can be challenging and may require several appointments.

To diagnose your condition, your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and conduct a physical examination. Doctors may order a number of tests to diagnose dementia and rule out other conditions.

Cognitive and neuropsychological tests

In these tests, doctors will evaluate your thinking (cognitive) function. A number of tests measure thinking skills such as memory, orientation, reasoning and judgment, language skills, and attention.

Doctors use these tests to determine whether you have dementia, how severe it is and what part of your brain is affected.

Neurological evaluation

In a neurological evaluation, doctors will evaluate your movement, senses, balance, reflexes and other areas. Doctors may use the neurological evaluation to diagnose other conditions.

Brain scans

Doctors may order brain scans, such as a CT or MRI, to check for evidence of stroke or bleeding and to rule out the possibility of a tumor.

Laboratory tests

Simple blood tests can rule out physical problems that can affect brain function, such as vitamin B-12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid gland.

Psychiatric evaluation

You may meet with a mental health specialist (psychologist or psychiatrist) who may evaluate whether depression or another psychological condition may be causing your symptoms.

Nov. 22, 2014