Can Doctors Help With Dementia?

Ashok Bharucha

March 21, 2023

When people you know show signs of dementia, it can be scary. But if you can get an accurate diagnosis, it can make a big difference to your loved one’s quality of life. Doctors can help diagnose dementia by asking questions and doing tests to eliminate other causes. They can also refer patients to specialists who can do further tests.

Getting a diagnosis

When someone starts to experience memory problems and other symptoms that can be linked to dementia, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. This helps to give them an explanation for their symptoms, access to treatment, advice and support and allows them to plan for the future.

To make a diagnosis, the doctor will do a thorough medical history, physical exam, thinking and memory testing, and possibly blood tests or brain scans to get more information about what is causing the symptoms. The test results will help the doctor decide what type of dementia a person has.

The diagnosis process can take 4 to 12 weeks, depending on how many tests and investigations are needed. This can be difficult for people, especially those awaiting a diagnosis and their family and friends.


Dementia is a serious mental disorder that can affect your daily life. It can cause you to lose your ability to think and remember.

Many people who have dementia experience changes in their behaviour and emotions. They may show mood swings — from sadness to anger — and change their routines and activities.

The first signs of dementia usually are memory problems, such as forgetting where a purse or wallet is kept. A person with dementia will also struggle to remember new information, like conversation minutes or hours ago.

Other symptoms can include trouble thinking, decision-making and planning. They can also include changes in personality and psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety or hallucinations.


There is a range of treatments for dementia. Some are designed to protect the brain; other treatments address symptoms like mood changes, anxiety and agitation.

Some of the most common medications for dementia include glutamate inhibitors (like memantine), antidepressants and antipsychotics. They can help relieve the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders and improve your quality of life.

Medications can also help with symptoms of Lewy body dementia, a type of Alzheimer’s disease that involves the buildup of clumps of proteins in the nerve cells. These clumps can damage the brain and cause problems with movement, memory, thinking and behaviour.

A doctor can diagnose dementia by asking questions, reviewing a patient’s medical and family history and carrying out tests. These may include a physical exam, blood tests, and a CT brain scan to see if other medical conditions may be causing the symptoms.

Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is a treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia that aims to improve cognitive skills, such as memory and problem-solving. This technique involves group sessions of activities and exercises that target specific problems.


The way someone with dementia feels and experiences life is down to much more than the condition itself. Their relationships, environment and support all shape how they feel about themselves.

Carers can also help to improve a person’s quality of life by providing support and guidance. This can include helping them to manage their health and financial affairs.

Having someone to talk to about your concerns is important, and plenty of resources are available to help you. Consider talking with your GP or getting a referral to a support service.

Dementia care professionals may be able to help with planning for your needs and finding services that meet those needs. Geriatric care managers and health and social work professionals can also be helpful.

Some people with dementia may develop problems with agitation and aggression, which can be frustrating for caregivers. However, these behaviours are often a reaction to stress and confusion. It is important to respond with affection and reassurance if they do occur.