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Tests for Physical Causes of Dementia, etc.
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 11:44 AM
Joined: 2/12/2020
Posts: 1

My sister and I live in a retirement community in separate apartments in independent living. She is safe so far in her apartment in that we have turned off the circuit breaker for the stove and she uses an auto shutoff tea pot. It is obvious to both of us that she has some form of dementia and is in the early stages. However, if she has Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t want to know that. She forget where she puts everything. Her short term memory is shot and she has problems processing information. She is easily overwhelmed with too much information in conversations. She has essentially stopped driving since she just moved here and the roads are unfamiliar to her. She says she can’t use WAZE because she can’t process, and then react in time to the instructions. I am handling all her paperwork and have all on auto payments. We already have her legal documents completed (MPOA, other POA, will). Her primary care physician is a geriatrician. Several questions:

What tests should he order to rule out physical causes for her symptoms instead of it being dementia? Should the geriatrician order these?

What tests are needed to determine what kind of dementia she has; for example, vascular, frontotemporal, Lewy bodies, etc. and what medications might be applicable? Does the geriatrician do these tests of do we need to see a neurologist, neuropsychiatrist or geriatric physiatrist?

Fortunately, she has a long-term care policy with an unlimited benefit. Our community includes assisted living and memory care facilities. What kind of criteria will the LTC insurance company require when she needs to go to AL and, eventually MC?

Thank you. I am learning so much from your posts.



Stuck in the middle
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 3:14 PM
Joined: 6/4/2017
Posts: 1490

Welcome to the board.

Several physical conditions can cause dementia symptoms, and your LOs doctor knows what they are.  I would take her to the doctor who takes care of her now, tell the doc what you told us, and let the doc figure it out.  It doesn't take a specialist.  My wife's PCP is an internist, and he ordered the tests needed.  I hope, in your case, it is something treatable.

You will have to read the insurance policy to see what triggers eligibility for benefits.  Our LTC policy has several criteria, such as inability to toilet or eat independently.  Specific to dementia, the person is eligible for benefits if s/he requires constant supervision.  

It is good that she has essentially stopped driving.  In fact, she should stop driving entirely.  Getting lost is the least of the problems faced by a PWD in a car.  She is in grave danger of killing herself or someone else if she drives.

If she hasn't already done so, she needs to see a CELA asap to get her financial and medical powers of attorney in order.  This needs to be done NOW while she is competent to appoint someone to assist her.

Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 5:47 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 20261

Please go to the top of this page and select You will find very good information re the diagnosos and proper protocol. Additionally there are other sights on line...Mayo for one.

Any diagnosis begins with ruling out causes especially those that are treatable.

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