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Alzheimer's and other Dementias: Answers at your fingertips, by Harry Cayton

By Harry Cayton

Reasons concerning the differing kinds and explanations of dementia. support with the sensible problems with taking care of a person with Alzheimer's. information of the place to move for help and suggestion at the criminal and monetary implications. assistance on deciding on a care domestic, what to seem for and the way to arrange. solutions to questions on attainable remedies and study for the long run.

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T he Mini Mental State Examination is one of a number of screening tests for dementia. It takes about five to six minutes to G E T T I NG A D IA GNOSIS | 45 administer and involves asking people a set of questions to test their memory, orientation as to time and place, understanding and language ability. People taking the test are also asked to write a sentence and to copy a drawing. The Mini Mental State Examination is commonly used by professionals caring for people with dementia. It is not a diagnostic test because the information it gives is not sufficient to allow a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia to be made.

Many consultants believe a first assessment is best done in the person’s home. Your GP will advise you if this is to happen in your G E T T I NG A D IA GNOSIS | 43 wife’s case. A consultant who visits a patient at home will be able to pick up additional clues about the person’s condition and will be able to assess how well or badly the person is coping in his or her home. Other consultants prefer to see each patient, with a family member or friend, in a day hospital or clinic. You will be sent appointment details for your wife in due course if you have not already received them.

THE PROCESS OF DIAGNOSIS How is Alzheimer’s disease usually diagnosed? A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is usually made on the basis of the person’s symptoms and mental abilities. To obtain as much information as possible, the doctor will undertake a process known as ‘history taking’, during which he or she will talk to the patient, and probably also to someone else who knows the patient well, such as a family member or friend. There may also be a more formal assessment of a patient’s physical and mental condition and needs (see the section ‘Community care’ in Chapter 9 for more information).

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