What you need to know before going to the hospital

Q. Is a doctor's diagnosis necessary?

If symptoms of dementia are present, the precautions to be taken in daily life and the treatment methods would vary depending on the cause and type of dementia. Therefore, a doctor's diagnosis is important to identify the type of dementia.
If you are experiencing symptoms of dementia that is secondary to some underlying disease, the underlying disease needs to be treated.

Q. Which department should I go to?

In general, you can see a doctor at the departments of neurology, psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine or neurosurgery, or at specialty outpatient clinics, such as “outpatient memory clinic.”
If you are not sure about which department you should consult, you may consult your primary care doctor and take a referral letter to the appropriate department/doctor.
It may also be a good idea to consult the Elderly Consultation Service Counter at the local health office.

Q. What kind of screening will be done?

In general, dementia is diagnosed through a face-to-face interview with a doctor.
In addition, tests to assess memory and cognitive function, and imaging examination of the brain are sometimes performed.
Moreover, to differentiate dementia secondary to an underlying disease, general physical examinations (blood tests, electrocardiography, etc.) and neurological examination for motor and nerve functions may also be performed.

[Cognitive function test]
This is a test performed to examine date and time recognition and recognition of the shapes of objects, simple calculation ability, and the ability to remember things seen a few minutes earlier.

[Imaging examination]
This refers to CT or MRI performed to examine for the presence or absence of atrophy of the brain, and infarction/bleeding in the brain.

How the family should prepare for a consultation

Information provided by family members who generally know the patient well is helpful for the doctor to make a diagnosis. It is recommended for a family member who will accompany the patient to summarize in an organized way, on a piece of paper or in a pocket book, information about the patient in advance. This information can be helpful for making a diagnosis of dementia and determine the pattern of its progression, and provide clues as to the cause.

    [Information preferably to be recorded in an organized way prior to consultation]

  • Does the forgetfulness interfere with everyday life?
  • Did the first episode appear over time or suddenly?
  • Have the symptoms progressed during the last six months?
  • Summary of the past medical history and a description of the medications that the patient has had/is currently having
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