There is no single test for dementia or the diseases that cause the symptoms of dementia.
Fear of dementia
Fear and stigma still surrounds dementia in Ireland. This can prevent some people seeking help or telling people about their diagnosis. It can also stop others from talking to individuals they know with dementia. This can be isolating for the person with the dementia and leads to loneliness. Some people may feel awkward or embarrassed which leads to them ignoring friends or acquaintances. Fear can be very debilitating. Fear can also cause a delay seeking help for as long as possible. Early diagnosis gives people the best chance to prepare and plan for the future, and receive treatment.
With support from healthcare professionals, family and friends, people with dementia are able to lead active, fulfilling lives.
Dementia is much more than just a health issue, it is a social issue.
The first step...
The journey towards diagnosis usually begins with a visit to your GP. This consultation is an opportunity to talk about all the symptoms that concern you. The first priority is to rule out other possible causes of your memory complaints. Blood tests, memory tests and other assessments will be done to rule out other causes.
The GP may then refer you to a hospital-based consultant or memory service for a full assessment to identify the cause of your symptoms. If you are over 65, this may be a geriatric medicine specialist or a later life psychiatrist. If you are under 65 you may be referred to a neurologist – a doctor with expertise in disorders of the brain.
The GP or consultant may make an initial diagnosis and may also refer you to a specialist Memory Clinic. These are found around the country and specialise in diagnosing the cause of memory problems. Generally, a referral is required to attend a Memory Clinic.