How is dementia diagnosed?

Updated: Oct 09, 2019
  • Author: Eli S Neiman, DO, FACN; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Criteria from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) should be used in the diagnosis of dementia. Clinical dementia is a fairly broad-based decline of brain function, and most definitions center on the patient's intellectual decline and memory dysfunction. This is, however, a fairly simplistic approach, in that dementia encompasses much more than these fundamental deficits. Many dementias have specific distinguishing features.

The process that constitutes normal aging is still an ongoing debate. As our understanding and testing procedures develop, more people are being classified as suffering from some type of dementia.

In 1998, Widagdo et al performed a quantitative EEG (QEEG) study of age-related changes during cognitive tasks. [1] This study revealed no conclusive differences between the young and the elderly. Cognitive decline, unlike normal aging, is associated with alterations in the temporospatial characteristics of EEG. The diagnosis of the initial stages of dementia is based mainly on neuropsychological testing and clinical suspicion. The EEG findings are nonspecific (see the image below).

EEG in dementia. EEG in dementia.

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