Dementia and Memory Loss
As individuals age into their golden years there are many issues that face them both emotionally and cognitively. In working with geriatric populations there is often a difficult diagnostic issue between the Dementias versus Major Depression. It is well known that one of the early symptoms of depression is memory loss; likewise, early dementia or Alzheimer's will frequently result in withdrawal and flattening of affect.
While brief clinical procedures and history are helpful to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment, in many cases, subtle cognitive losses and emotional or organic denial of symptoms often complicate the process. In many of these cases, MRIs and other neurodiagnostic tests are usually of little value due to the early stages of development. Indeed a sizable number of such patients present with a varying mix of functional and organic deficits.
Diagnosing Dementia and Memory Loss with Neuropsychological Assessments
Neuropsychological assessment typically results in meaningful resolutions to many of these complicated diagnostic issues. Often the examination of these patients is focused and does not require an extensive battery of tests, which results in a minimization of costs. The evaluation involves an assessment of both emotional and cognitive functioning and results will include suggestions for treatment and prognosis.
Answering the question of whether or not dementia is present can in and of itself be of great relief to patients and families when they are aware of what lies ahead prognostically and can help tremendously in mobilizing the proper resources to ameliorate the patient's difficulties.