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Should I See My Healthcare Provider?

Mother and daughter looking and smartphone

RDS Canada members tell us that the time from symptom onset to obtaining an accurate diagnosis can take a long time. Members also report that because they are younger or because their symptoms are different, they hesitate to contact their provider. They will attribute their symptoms to “being tired and needing a holiday”, “stressed at work”, “going through menopause” or “getting old”.

Some signs that may indicate the need for further investigation are:

Like all health matters, it’s best not to delay investigations to see what the problem might be. Your provider may be able treat conditions that mimic dementia symptoms. Getting a diagnosis also involves several assessments to rule out other medical conditions. For individuals with dementia, this is typically done by a neurologist or psychiatrist and would involve obtaining a detailed medical history, tests of cognitive functioning (e.g., memory), blood tests, as well as brain scans such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Tests such as positron emission tomography (PET) scan or lumbar puncture can also be conducted to detect any protein abnormalities in the brain or cerebrospinal fluid.

Although getting a diagnosis can be time-consuming, involve several visits to various healthcare professionals and sometimes be distressing or intrusive, it is a first important step to getting necessary support and care.

For more information on talking to your healthcare provider, the Alzheimer Society of Canada provides several excellent tips:

How to get tested for dementia | Alzheimer Society of Canada