The dementia diagnosis - what happens next?

You’ve been to the doctor, had the tests and you’re now sat awaiting the results. But the next steps for you will depend entirely on your diagnosis. Here’s what to expect…

You need more tests…

It may be that after various tests, the results are still inconclusive and you need to be sent for further tests or brain scans. This could be the case if you’ve only had tests with your GP and he or she wants to get a better idea of your issues by referring you to a specialist memory expert, geriatrician or memory clinic.

You have dementia…

Of course, this is the outcome that nobody wants to hear. But receiving a dementia diagnosis can also provide a sense of relief for many people, as they finally understand what might be causing their symptoms.

What happens next?
If your doctor or specialist can confirm that you do have dementia, you’ll now be heading down a new pathway in the dementia journey. Along the way, you may experience different challenges, and you’ll need to think about planning ahead for certain areas of your life such as legal and medical preparation.

For more information on things to consider post-diagnosis, click here.

You don’t have dementia….

The alternative outcome is that the doctor can tell you don’t have dementia. This may come as a welcome relief, but there’s also a chance that your memory problems are being caused by something else.

But you may have…

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
This is often seen as a precursor to dementia and having it does increase your risk of developing dementia. MCI creates all the symptoms of memory loss that you’ve probably already spotted, but they’re not serious enough to be diagnosed as dementia.

The other difference is that you may have mild cognitive impairment, but never actually go on to properly develop dementia, and some people even improve and no longer have problems.

The good news is that there are plenty of tools and products to help you deal with any issues arising from the symptoms of MCI.

Other illnesses
If the doctor thinks your memory loss is being caused by something else, he’ll start looking into what it could be. These can include:

- Depression
- Anxiety
- Poor diet
- Reactions to medications
- Sleep problems

With all of these illnesses or problems, there are treatments available which your doctor will be able to prescribe or suggest to you.

Good to know

Whatever the outcome of your diagnosis, it’s important to remember that there are clear steps you can take to manage your memory problems, and so long as you’re surrounded by a supportive network, you WILL be able to cope!