No single test can diagnose early onset dementia, but a combination of evaluations can enable doctors to identify the dementia subtype and begin early treatment of symptoms, explains the Alzheimer's Association. Evaluation procedures include review of medical history, mental status testing, physical and neurological exams, blood tests and brain imaging.
Medical diagnosis with dementia assessment tests enables accurate detection of dementia by ruling out treatable conditions that exhibit similar symptoms, including depression, vitamin B12 deficiency and normal pressure hydrocephalus, according to MedicineNet. Previously, dementia could be confirmed only through autopsy. However, medical advancements have devised certain tests to detect dementia with adequate accuracy while the patient is still alive. Genetic testing and pre-symptomatic testing are especially relevant in diagnosing early onset dementia, notes the Alzheimer's Association. Researchers have found certain genes may lead to increased risk of developing dementia while certain other rare "deterministic genes" directly cause Alzheimer's disease. Pre-symptomatic testing is mainly conducted in disorders such as Huntington's in which a known gene defect increases the possibility of dementia, states MedicineNet.
Particularly in early onset dementia, early diagnosis is crucial for patients and their families, as timely treatment of symptoms can significantly improve patients' quality of life, explains MedicineNet. It allows patients to consider their options and plan their futures, particularly in cases of AD or other progressive dementias. Doctors may also recommend drug therapy in such cases. Ultimately, the treatment of early onset dementia as an incurable condition focuses primarily on symptomatic relief and improving quality of life, for which early detection is vital.