Why do I need a diagnosis?

Find out why receiving a professional diagnosis is an important step to living well with dementia. 

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A thorough and timely assessment for possible dementia is essential in order to:

  • rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms and may be treatable, including depression, chest and urinary tract infections, severe constipation, and vitamin and thyroid deficiencies
  • rule out other possible causes of confusion (eg poor sight or hearing), emotional changes and upsets (eg moving house or bereavement), or the side effects of certain drugs or combinations of drugs
  • provide a person with dementia with an explanation for their symptoms, removing uncertainty and allowing them to begin to adjust
  • allow a person with dementia to access treatment as well as information, advice and support (emotional, practical, legal and financial)
  • allow a person with dementia to plan and make arrangements for the future.

If the outcome of the assessment is a diagnosis of dementia, it is important that the type (eg Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia) is also diagnosed. Knowing the dementia type will help to understand symptoms, predict how the dementia might progress, and suggest how best to manage it. For example, certain drugs will be prescribed for Alzheimer's disease (but not vascular dementia), although these do not cure the condition.

Assessment process and tests

Find out more about the dementia diagnosis and assessment process, including what to do before and after. 

Find out more
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Further reading