How do they assess dementia if you can't talk?

Discussion in 'Memory concerns and seeking a diagnosis' started by Curlew, Dec 12, 2019.

  1. Curlew

    Curlew New member

    Dec 10, 2019
    4
    Hi,

    My 79 year old mum has a long-overdue appointment with her GP coming up, to start the ball rolling towards a dementia diagnosis. To cut a very long story short, she has shown signs of memory problems and other symptoms for the past four years and has been referred once already to the memory clinic, last Feb...but the referral was lost . It took three months for that to come to light, by which time my parents were just starting a house move north to be close to me, so it was decided to wait. Now that move has been completed and the appointment has been made. However in the interim months, Mum has deteriorated more rapidly and amongst other things, has lost most of her ability to communicate - now she hardly speaks, she can't seem to find the words for what she wants to say, and what she does say is very hard to understand. So I think it's unlikely that any of the standard memory assessments will be much use, and was wondering what they might do instead. Or whether the new GP will just not attempt a new assessment and simply use what is in her record from Feb to do a fresh referral? Does anyone have any experience of this situation?
     
  2. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    11,156
    Female
    South coast
    I think it very likely that the GP will use her previous records plus a note to say that she is now unable to speak.
    The memory clinic will want to do a scan before they make a diagnosis and she doesnt need to speak for that.
     
  3. Philbo

    Philbo Registered User

    Feb 28, 2017
    741
    Male
    Kent
    My wife found it more and more difficult to communicate very early on in her 6 year dementia journey. Her GP had initially been a bit dismissive of her keep repeating herself ("we all do that as we get older" - she was only 62 at the time!) but as she did badly with the memory test, he referred her to the memory clinic.

    There, they quickly realised that it was no good asking my wife questions and looked to me to give them information. An MRI and SPECT scans were done and she was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) in January 2014.
     
  4. Curlew

    Curlew New member

    Dec 10, 2019
    4
    Thank you both - it just seems like quite an uncommon situation for someone to present for an initial (at this GP) assessment having already lost so much of her ability to communicate. But i guess it's clear she has dementia now, it's just a question of what kind and how far along she's progressed. When I first tried to work out what would be the likely diagnosis (maybe a couple of years ago), I decided it would probably 'just' be MCI. But now I suspect that she has deteriorated so much in the last few months - she is also now incontinent, sometimes doubly so, and is unsteady on her feet, and a few weeks back when my children arrived home after a few days with their Dad, she observed that the house was "full of strangers" - that she is already in the mid stages. No one kind of dementia appears to fit exactly, but then that's why we have professionals to refer to. The receptionist at the surgery did mention that she would be referred for a CT scan amongst other things, so hopefully that and the history will be enough for them to be able to decide on a diagnosis.
     
  5. Mydarlingdaughter

    Mydarlingdaughter Registered User

    Oct 25, 2019
    56
    North East England UK
    Can she listen and understand instructions , a lot of the tests involve looking at pictures and drawing. I think a psychologist will still be able to assess her.
     

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