Seeking a Diagnosis
Worried about your memory, or someone else’s? The first thing to do is to see your GP. Read on for more information on what to expect and what will happen next.
The benefits of getting an early diagnosis:
It is just as important that those living in residential or nursing care, who may have more advanced symptoms, are also diagnosed. This means that their care can be planned to reduce unsettling hospital admissions for common difficulties. It also allows for all professionals who see the person to be aware of the condition and any individual needs.
If you are worried about your memory or changes in personality or behaviour of someone you know, then the first step is to see your GP. This is really important as there are many health problems which may be making your memory worse or causing some confusion. Your GP will talk through some of the problems with you and probably arrange for some blood tests. It is always helpful for someone who knows you well to go to the GP with you. it helps make sure the doctor gets all the information they need as well as supporting you.
If all physical and mental health problems are ruled out for the change in memory or behaviour, then the GP may refer to the Memory Assessment Service (MAS).
The Memory Assessment Service aims to meet the needs of people who are concerned that they may have a memory problem. The initial stage will be to assess and diagnose the nature of the person’s memory difficulties, report this to the GP and advise on further treatment or support.
The team is made up of specialist doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists. The team will sometimes continue to be involved after diagnosis, and can offer information, advice and support to the person with memory problems and their family.
As there is no one single test for dementia then it is important that all aspects of your life and any difficulties are noted.
Once the team receive the referral from your GP they then look at the information in detail and will come up with a plan of what is best for each individual case. Some people will need to have a CT scan as part of the information needed to help the team, this is not the case for everyone and only those where it is needed will be asked to go and have one.
You will be told what is happening and when any appointments may be and what to bring with you. You will then be sent a letter with all the details on.
At your first appointment you will usually be seen by one of the specialist doctors, the person with you will also have an opportunity to say things that they may have noticed differently than you. Your memory, thinking and other cognitive skills will also be assessed further with a pen-and-paper test.
You may need to come back for more detailed tests, have a home visit by OT or need to wait a short while to be told the outcome. If you are suitable for medication you will then come back to see either a doctor or a specialist nurse in a Prescription Clinic, once these are stable we will arrange future checkups to be with your GP.
The clinician will usually ask if you agree to be contacted by the Memory Navigation Service who can offer ongoing telephone support and advice for you and your family/carer.
To find out more about dementia, its symptoms, what to do if you are worried, and the support available contact the Memory Navigation Service on 0300 111 9090. Whatever your questions or concerns, we can help guide you.