What Type Of Doctor Should A Dementia Patient See?

what type of doctor should a dementia patient see

One of the most common questions that we get is what type of doctor should a dementia patient see?

Thus, we decided to help EVEN MORE users by answering the question with this in-depth doctor overview article.

The FIRST professional a person sees is a general physician or their family doctor.

Dementia doctors and specialists

dementia doctors and specialists

1. Neurologists

These are doctors who specialize in nervous system disorders including issues with peripheral nerves, the spinal cord, and the brain.

Professionals can help with the diagnosis of dementia. This is because they generally receive formal training in different types of dementia.

Keep in mind that not all neurologists deal with dementia.

Some focus on other medical conditions includes seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and pain management.

It is, therefore, important to inquire whether the neurologist deals with people who have dementia/Alzheimer’s before seeking their services.

2. Neuropsychologists

Neuropsychologists are another type of doctor that a person with dementia should see. Most of the professionals normally have advanced degrees (Psy.D or Ph.D.) in clinical psychology.

Some also further their studies to get training in neuropsychology.

The professionals normally administer several tests to access thinking abilities like language, attention, memory, problem-solving skills, and reading.

Neuropsychologists can work with PRIMARY CAREGIVERS as well as other specialists during the diagnosis process.

3. Geriatricians

Geriatricians are primary care physicians who also have additional training in medical care for conditions and diseases that affect older people (over 65 years).

The professionals can generally manage numerous medical conditions.

4. Geriatric Psychiatrists

The psychiatrists undergo general psychiatry training with additional training in aging and mental health.

When a person is suspected to have dementia, geriatric psychiatrists can help rule out other causes of memory loss like depression.

The professionals can also help treat multiple behaviors that are related to dementia in persons living with dementia.

5. Psychiatrists

They are professionals who specialize in medical disorders that affect the way the mind works and mood.

6. Psychologists

Psychologists are physicians who are trained in testing memory as well as other mental functions.

The experts usually perform several tests to determine whether the symptoms a person is experiencing are related to dementia.

These include:

Tests to determine the condition

What type of doctor should a dementia patient see?

Reviewing medical history

This includes LOOKING into past and current medical conditions and medications.

The doctor can also look into the diet, alcohol use, and family medical history.

In addition to talking with the affected individual, physicians might also request to talk to family members of the person who may be suffering from thinking or memory problems.

They normally do this to find out if the relatives have NOTICED any CHANGES.

Physical Exam

Doctors may also request a physical exam to assess things like pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and other procedures that evaluate overall health.

Laboratory Tests

Doctors can also ask for a couple of lab tests that help rule out other infections that may be causing the symptoms a person has.

These can also help to check how organs like the kidney or liver are functioning.

Common lab tests that doctors ask for include urine and blood samples.

Brain Imaging

These can include CT scans, MRIs, or more to check if there are any changes in the brain.

Mental Cognitive Status Tests

These are usually conducted to evaluate memory, simple problem-solving abilities, and thinking.

The tests can be BRIEF or COMPLEX and intensive depending on what the doctor wants to achieve.

Complex tests are offered by professional neuropsychologists to evaluate judgment, executive function, language, and attention.

Depression Screening

A person may also undergo a screen for depression under the advice of their doctor.

It may include ANSWERING some questions to find out if they have depression.

This is usually important because depression can cause thinking and memory issues SIMILAR to dementia.

The doctor can then refer the individual to other specialists who deal with the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia if they are not able to FULLY DIAGNOSE the illness.

Closing Remarks

It normally helps to work with a team of professional doctors to get a dementia diagnosis.

This is because there is still no single test that can be done to diagnose progressive disease.

If a person has dementia, the specialists can also help come up with an effective treatment plan that will help manage the disease because it does not have a cure yet.

Dementia Doctors: Choose the Right Specialist

dementia doctors

If you suspect that someone has dementia or you already know a person with the neurodegenerative illness, they must see the right dementia doctors.

One of the main reasons for this is the fact that it is usually not easy to diagnose or manage dementia.

For this reason, an ill individual needs to consult with a specialist. He or she has the knowledge and experience to effectively deal with the disease.

People who have dementia may have to visit different types of specialists to get a proper diagnosis.

This will help them get the right information on how to go about living with the illness that has no cure.

Best Dementia Doctors

Some of the professionals that can help individuals with dementia include:

A General Physician

a general physician
Any individual who has concerns about changes in memory, mood, thinking, and behaviors, should first contact their primary care physician.

After discussing the symptoms, the doctors will mostly probably diagnose dementia using tests to determine cognitive ability, brain scans, neurological evaluations, and mental health evaluations.

The professionals use a combination of various diagnosis methods because there are no blood tests that confirm whether a person has dementia or not.

It is important because it helps determine whether other underlying medical conditions are behind the symptoms that a person has.

When need is, the doctor can recommend other specialists that a person who has dementia can see to lighten the burden of the illness.

Neurologists

neurologists
Neurologists also belong to the category of dementia doctors who help persons with the illness. These are professionals who specialize in abnormalities of the central nervous system and the brain.

They have the technical know-how to interpret brain scans to see if any changes are as a result of dementia.

Geriatricians

These are specialists who manage health care for seniors. Geriatricians are aware of how the body changes as a person grows older and can detect some of the symptoms that are not a normal part of aging.

Gerontologist

This is a professional who deals with gerontology, like social, biological, and psychological aspects of aging.

Although they are not medical professionals, they can be instrumental when it comes to offering essential support services to people who have different types of dementia.

Geriatric psychiatrists

They are professionals who focus on the emotional and mental problems of the elderly. They can also assess thinking and memory.

Neuropsychologists

These are experts who are responsible for conducting tests that relate to memory and thinking.

Now that you have an idea of some of the dementia doctors that persons with the disease can see, let’s jump into some of the tips you can use to choose the right specialist.

Seek Referrals

seek referrals
When dealing with dementia especially for the first time, you may not know who to turn to. This is why it is important to look for referrals.

Your primary doctor can help you with this when you need to see a specialist.

Alternatively, if you know a person who is dealing with dementia, they can direct you to a specialist they trust to offer proper treatment and care.

Other resources you can take advantage of include dementia care centers, and reputable senior living communities in your region.

While working with referrals, it is important to get a few contacts.

This way you will be in a position to compare the services that different doctors have to offer so that you can pick the ones that you feel will serve your needs best

Experience with Dementia

experience with dementia
No offense to doctors who are just starting, but it is usually recommended that you look for a specialist who has been in the industry for a couple of years.

These are well-trained and competent individuals who can properly deal with dementia.

Other than being professional, the doctor should give individuals all the time they need to listen and address any questions and health concerns that a person may have.

Before a person commits to seeing one doctor, it is important to research the professional beforehand.

This is where you get to find out about the credentials of the professional, office policies, and any other details you would like to know about the professional before working with them.

Checking board certifications can also help determine the skills a particular doctor has in a specific area of medicine.

You can make a cold call to the office to determine how they run things. If this impresses you, schedule a one-on-one meeting to see if you will finally seal the deal.

Accessibility

accessibility
Naturally, you do not want to deal with dementia doctors who are miles away. This can prove to be rather unhelpful when you want their services.

It is best to find a doctor who is easily accessible so that you can see them anytime you want without too many complications.

The doctor’s office should have open communication lines so that you do not have to struggle when you want to consult the doctor.

Cost Implications

cost implications
When looking for a good doctor, you must also think about the cost implications. If you are using insurance, make sure the professional accepts the insurance you are under or else it will create problems later on.

When using cash, it is important to find a doctor whose services are within your budget.

This way, you will not end up in debt simply because you are walking with a professional that you cannot afford.

Trust your Gut

trust your gut
Your gut feeling can be helpful when it comes to choosing the right dementia doctors.

If something does not sit well with you, it is better to continue with your search. It is worth investing extra time until you find a doctor that you are confident with.

Even after picking a doctor, there is space to change your mind if you discover that he or she is not the person you are looking for to meet your medical needs.

You might also want to look for a doctor who speaks your language and is sensitive to your religious and cultural convictions.

It is one of the ways to create a friendly working relationship with the specialist.

Lewy Body Dementia Specialist, Diagnosis & Treatment

lewy body dementia specialist

To get a proper diagnosis and treatment for Lewy body dementia (LBD), it is important to consult a Lewy body dementia specialist.

LBD describes a kind of progressive dementia that often leads to a decline in thinking.

The main reason it is important to work with a specialist is that diagnosing Lewy body dementia is usually challenging.

Some of the early LBD symptoms are similar to the warning signs found in other brain illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or psychiatric diseases.

It is one of the primary reasons LBD specialists are needed because they possess special skills that they can use to properly diagnose Lewy body dementia.

LBD remains a “clinical diagnosis” implying that it represents a medic’s best professional judgment about the reason why a person is going through certain symptoms.

Note: Some other names for LBD are Lewy body dementia, cortical Lewy body disease, diffuse Lewy body disease.

Have a look at some of the specialists that can help with LBD diagnosis.

Specialists who Can Diagnose Lewy Body Dementia

specialists who can diagnose lewy body dementia
When you first notice any physical, cognitive, behavioral or emotional problems, your first stop will probably be at your doctor’s office.

If your physician is not too familiar with LBD, they may refer you to a Lewy body dementia specialist.

They are a few professionals you can consult including neurologists who specialize in brain disorders as well as those of the nervous system implying they have what it takes to tell if a person has LBD or not.

Other professionals include geriatricians, geriatric psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists who have skills that can diagnose this dementia type.

Other than your doctor’s referrals, you can also use Lewy Body Dementia Association Research Centres (a reputable research network) to find specialists who are knowledgeable about LBD.

Lewy Body Dementia Tests

The specialists usually conduct several tests before coming up with a diagnosis like:

Brain Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography can be used to detect structural abnormalities in the brain or brain shrinkage which can help rule out other possible causes of movement and dementia symptoms.

Medical examination and history

Doctors will always review a person’s medical history thoroughly to try and figure out what is going on.

This includes looking into current and previous illnesses, checking out the medications and alternative treatments a person is on as well asking about all the symptoms that the person has.

They will also conduct tests of memory and movement in a bid to collect valuable details they can use for the diagnosis process.

Neurological tests

These are tests medics will perform to assess memory as well as other cognitive functions to help recognize the areas of the brain that are affected.

Medical tests

Laboratory studies are also included in the diagnosis process to rule out other medical conditions, vitamin, or hormonal deficiencies that may be causing the symptoms a person is experiencing.

Heart tests

Some specialists may also see it fit to order myocardial scintigraphy a heart test that checks blood flow to the heart which can be one of the LBD symptoms.

Worth noting is that currently, no medical tests or brain tests can affirmatively diagnose Lewy body dementia. It is only possible to diagnose LBD through brain autopsy after a person dies.

Scientists are, however, working hard to find more effective solutions to accurately diagnose Lewy body dementia in a living brain.

Lewy Body Dementia Treatment Options

lewy body dementia treatment options
To date, there is still no cure for LBD. A Lewy body dementia specialist may, nonetheless, offer guidance on how to manage the illness.

Some of the symptoms may respond positively to treatment for some time. Treatment plans normally involve a combination of:

Medicines

lbd medicines
Doctors may prescribe several drugs to treat some LBD symptoms. It is advisable that a ill individual refrains from self-medicating because some medications are known to make the symptoms worse.

Working with a knowledgeable health professional is essential because they can switch up the drugs in case of severe side-effects.

They can also know how to pair up drugs to avoid medicine interactions. The drugs a person is given depends on the symptoms they are going through.

For instance, a doctor may recommend Exelon, Razadyne, or Namzaric for memory and thinking problems.

Sinemet may help with stiffness, slowness, and tremor while Klonopin can be useful for sleep disturbances and so forth.

Different Types of Therapies

different types of lbd therapies
After a positive diagnosis for LBD from a Lewy body dementia specialist, a person may have to work with a team of professional therapists on different highly effective therapies, depending on the symptoms they are experiencing such as:

Speech therapists

The experts can assist with voice projection, low voice volume, and swallowing challenges.

Physical therapists

They can help with movement issues through flexibility, strengthening, and cardiovascular exercises as well as general physical fitness programs. Some individuals with LBD might also need gait training

Expressive art or music therapists

The professionals help weak persons engage in fun and meaningful activities, including music and art therapies, intending to improve well-being and reduce symptoms like anxiety.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can help to soothe and calm a person especially when they are agitated.

Occupational therapists

The experts will walk with the persons with Lewy body dementia trying to identify easier ways to conduct daily activities like bathing, grooming, and eating to help them retain independence for the longest possible time.

Do not forget to read all the various benefits occupational therapy has on a person with dementia.

Pet therapy

Pets can not only offer companionship, but they can also help boost mood.

Counseling

lbd counseling
Many people with LBD together with their families need professional help when it comes to processing the changes that will come about after a positive diagnosis.

Professional mental health counselors may come in handy to help people learn how to manage difficult behaviors and emotions. They can also help families and loved ones make sober plans for the future.

Other than counseling, persons with the illness and their relatives and friends can also join a support group where they can get helpful resources they can use to deal with their “new normal.”

Other types of treatment that a Lewy body dementia specialist may vouch for include lifestyle interventions where the suffering person has to eat healthier, get physically active, and remain socially active.

Making adjustments to the living environment, social support, and the use of equipment that make daily life easier are also recommended.

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