A person's medical history and a physical examination are important parts of the evaluation when the person has symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
The doctor will ask questions during a medical history to assess a person's past and current overall health and to find out how well the person functions.
This process may be complicated if the person isn't able to remember important parts of his or her medical history or isn't aware of the memory loss. A family member can be very helpful in providing information about the person's symptoms, such as when the symptoms were first noticed, how quickly they developed, and whether they have continued to get worse.
Other important information in a medical history includes:
Other medical problems the person has or has had, such as a stroke, Parkinson's disease, HIV infection, depression, a head injury, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. In some cases, illnesses can cause confusion or other signs of dementia.
Whether there is a history of Alzheimer's disease or dementia in the family.
The person's family, social, cultural, and educational background, as well as any recent unusual events in the person's life. These things can influence how a person performs on a mental status test. And some experts believe that they may affect the risk of dementia.
What medicines the person is taking. Some medicines can contribute to memory loss or mental impairment. This side effect of certain drugs is an easy problem to correct but is often overlooked as the cause of symptoms.
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Myron F. Weiner MD - Psychiatry, Neurology
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Alzheimer Society of British Columbia: First Link Dementia Helpline
The First Link® Dementia Helpline is for anyone affected by dementia, whether professionally or personally. If you have questions about Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, call the Alzheimer Society of B.C.'s First Link® Dementia Helpline for information and support (toll-free):
English: 1-800-936-6033 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
Cantonese and Mandarin: 1-833-674-5007 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Punjabi: 1-833-674-5003 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)