How a dementia test can pick up early signs of the treatable illness

Taking an early dementia test may lead to treatment to help slow down deterioration.

How a dementia test can pick up early signs of the treatable illness

While dementia is more prevalent in those over 65, it can develop in anyone from 40 years of age onwards, suggesting it’s wise not to put off taking a ‘mini mental test’ at the GPs.

So when is the right time to take this test for dementia? According to Alzheimer’s Australia, if you believe you are becoming forgetful or struggling to find the right word, it is worthwhile talking to your doctor. The mini mental test, otherwise known as a General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition, is an easy, four-minute quiz. You can find a sample of one at gpcog.com.au.

But being in denial about whether you may have this brain disease could be the very thing that compromises your independence and mobility earlier than you expect.

“Receiving a positive diagnosis as soon as possible gives you more time to plan for the future,” Alzheimer’s Australia (Vic) acting chief executive Leanne Wenig told YourLifeChoices.

Many people avoid discussing dementia with their doctor out of fear that they will be considered crazy or stupid if they score ‘poorly’. But the few questions you will be asked to answer are not a test of your IQ or your mental health. Instead, the process is designed to indicate whether there is sufficient cognitive impairment to warrant more medical testing for an accurate diagnosis and potential treatment.

Symptoms common to most forms of dementia are memory loss, confusion, personality change, apathy and an inability to perform everyday tasks. However, it is possible to have some of these symptoms and not have dementia, as they can also be evident in people with vitamin or hormone imbalances, depression or those who are over-medicated.

While there is as yet no cure for dementia, there are medicines that help ease the symptoms and slow down the disease’s progress so that you remain independent for as long as possible.

Dementia is not a single disease, but rather a general term for several neuro-degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration and Huntington's disease, among others. Early detection of these illnesses may help to ease the worst symptoms later. Although, inevitably, dementia is terminal.

Among conditions thought to increase the risk of dementia are heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, according to Alzheimer’s Australia. If you have any of these ailments, it is even more pressing to discuss dementia screening with your GP.

Put your mind at ease and ask your doctor if it’s worthwhile having a mini mental test.

For more information, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

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    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    1st Jun 2017
    10:27am
    Had a look at the test. Could not work out how to use. Is that a worry?
    FrankC
    1st Jun 2017
    10:54am
    No Mick, I had a look and the only one that was able to be done was the name and address of John Brown. How can you assess yourself correctly in the other questions.?
    FrankC
    1st Jun 2017
    10:55am
    Gone back, and read that it is a sample of the TYPE of test the GP will give you. Duh.!
    MICK
    1st Jun 2017
    11:05am
    I got that but it sounded like it was an actual test to do online. Maybe I needed to be a bit more specific.
    Rosret
    1st Jun 2017
    1:41pm
    hehe - I never understand why they ask retirees what the date and day of the week is. Do we care!
    I really don't even care what time it is unless I have an event to attend. That is the luxury of retirement.
    My father was tested and he was asked for names of Prime Ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, Governors etc etc. I actually think the specialist was enjoying my Dad's astounding knowledge base and just wanted to test his limit.
    MICK
    1st Jun 2017
    5:09pm
    Yeah, funny Rosret. You do sort of lose track of time when not going to work so a bit unfair to ask retirees that question.
    I like you last bit.
    Charlie
    1st Jun 2017
    11:38am
    Nope no an actual test on line
    shirboy
    1st Jun 2017
    2:49pm
    I tested my memory & came up trumps. Ha ha no pun really intended
    jeffr
    1st Jun 2017
    6:17pm
    My late wife suffered from dementia and as I was present during all of her assessments it becomes evident that what appears to be simple questions eventually were questions that could not be answered.For example, what year is it? what season is it? eventually could not be answered.

    Yes Mick, it is worth while doing .The earlier the treatment certain medication does help delaying the final outcome.

    It is heartbreaking when your own wife does not recognise your daughter of 40 years even when your daughter is a constant visitor.
    jeffr
    1st Jun 2017
    6:23pm
    Sorry about the grammar, I get very emotional when this subject is mentioned.
    Rosret
    1st Jun 2017
    7:00pm
    Yes - Its not that she doesn't remember us its that we remember her. If she felt happy when you were with her then that is all you can ask.
    So sad though.
    Incognito
    3rd Jun 2017
    3:09am
    I would not bother doing the test too early, I think it cannot be trusted, we all have days when our memories are not up to scratch. What do they mean by 'Early detection of these illnesses may help to ease the worst symptoms later' how does this work?


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