Because the symptoms of dementia usually develop slowly, it may be some time before a diagnosis can be confirmed.

Diagnosing dementia

To reach a diagnosis, doctors usually spend some time listening to their patients explain the symptoms they are experiencing and arrange for them to have some tests. These tests usually include a scan, blood and urine tests and an ECG (a test to check for any abnormalities in the patient’s heart). The results of these are carefully considered by a specialist doctor before they can determine a diagnosis. The diagnosis may be for a particular brain condition such as Alzheimer’s disease, or vascular dementia, but if the symptoms are mild and no specific condition is identifiable, the patient may be asked to return for further tests in the future, or may be given a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This is not a diagnosis of dementia, but just indicates that a person may be experiencing some minor problems with cognition (mental processing).

It is important that anyone who is experiencing any problems as outlined above seeks medical assistance. This will help rule out any other treatable conditions that can have similar symptoms. If dementia is diagnosed, the person and their family will then be able to access further assistance, which may include medication, other therapeutic activities or professional care. It will also mean that if there are decisions to be made such as writing a will or arranging powers of attorney, these can be done while the person has capacity to do so.

Treatments for dementia


Unfortunately, there are no cures for dementia but there are some medications that can help manage some of the symptoms experienced, and if a person is diagnosed with vascular dementia, then other medications may be prescribed to manage any problems related to this. These medications are not suitable for everyone and if prescribed they will be reviewed regularly, and any side-effects will be discussed.

From time to time the national news reports new breakthroughs in medications for dementia. There have sadly been no new medications for many years, and none are likely to be available any time soon for people currently diagnosed with dementia. If such medications ever become available in the future, and if they are suitable for you, your doctor will make these known to you and reassess your situation.

Other things that will help

We know that it is possible to live well with dementia with the right support. One way of managing symptoms is by staying actively involved in regular interests, learning new things and maintaining relationships. Dementia Jersey provides a range of therapeutic activities to help.

People with dementia can benefit greatly from the support and understanding of those around them, particularly if they invest in learning more about the condition and how to best communicate with them. It can also help to meet others who share a similar diagnosis and to access talking therapies, which can allow them to express their concerns, to cope with their symptoms, and to explore what matters to them.