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How is dementia diagnosed?

There is no single test that can diagnose dementia. The journey to a diagnosis often involves several steps, including the initial medical examination, tests for mental ability, laboratory tests and brain scans. The doctor will then combine and review all the information obtained to help pinpoint the problem.


During a medical examination, the doctor would go through your medical history. During a dementia assessment, patients are encouraged to be present with a caregiver or family member. They can also provide useful information such as changes or problems that the patient has experienced.

Information that the doctor will note includes but are not limited to the following:

  • When and how the symptoms started
  • If the symptoms affect your daily life
  • Existing medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, stroke, depression)
  • Review of medications that you might be taking, including traditional medicines and supplements (e.g. vitamins)

Tests for Mental Ability

Several different tests, also known as cognitive assessments, are used to check memory and thinking. Most tests involve a series of pen-and-paper tests and questions that each carry a score.

Specifically, several mental abilities in the tests include:

  • Short- and long-term memory
  • Concentration and attention span
  • Language and communication skills
  • Awareness of time and place (Orientation)

Psychiatric Evaluation

During a psychiatric evaluation, the doctor would be able to determine whether depression or other mental health condition is the cause of the symptoms that are confused with dementia. This is also done to rule out other possible conditions.

Blood tests can help exclude other causes of symptoms that could be confused with dementia. Common blood tests ordered are as follows:

  • Liver function
  • Kidney function
  • Thyroid function
  • Hemoglobin A1c (to check for diabetes)
  • Vitamin B12 and folate levels

If there is a suspicion of an infection, you also may be required to perform urine tests or other investigations.

Spinal fluid is sometimes examined for infection, inflammation or markers of some neurodegenerative diseases.

The utility of brain scans in the diagnosis of dementia has increased over the years. However, like other tests, they are not used on their own to make a diagnosis.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)-assisted MRI Scan with Volume Quantification (MRI Dementia Screen) 

  • Accurate assessment of imaging biomarkers for dementia using artificial intelligence (AI) on an MRI scan to quantify important parts of the brain with comparison to a normal population database. This allows early detection of changes in the brain's structure that could point to a higher risks of dementia.
  • Check for evidence of other causes that could give rise to dementia-like symptoms, such as stroke and brain tumor.
  • Help visualize features of dementia and the types of diseases causing dementia.
  • Provides detailed information about the blood vessel damage that happens in vascular dementia (MR Dementia Screen Plus only).
  • Enhanced visualization of shrinkage in specific areas of the brain not well assessed on a routine MRI Brain.

CT scans can be used to check for signs of stroke or a brain tumor. However, it cannot provide detailed information about the structure of the brain.

PET Scans

  • 18FDG PET/CT Brain shows patterns of brain activity that can be seen early in the disease and help differentiate types of dementia
  • Amyloid PET/CT Brain shows whether amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, is deposited in the brain


To learn more about dementia services, reach out to us at +65 6363 1818 or send an enquiry here. Alternatively, you could also click here to make an appointment.