A Note for families... What is Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of brain disorders. The term refers to a decline in cognitive abilities severe enough to affect social and occupational abilities. Dementia is not a diagnosis in itself. Determining the type of dementia helps the doctor to treat it in many cases, and assists family planning.

Some types of dementia can be treated or even reversed. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is a circulation blockage of the fluid in the brain. NPH causes attention and memory problems, difficulty walking, and eventually, urinary incontinence. A surgical procedure can reverse the condition if diagnosed early enough. Certain strokes can be treated in the emergency room if the patient is evaluated within 4½ hours of the onset of symptoms.

Some dementias stay the same over time. A traumatic brain injury or major stroke can cause a dementia that stays static for most of the person's life. Other forms of dementia are progressive, with decline in thinking and function. The most common progressive dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but many other conditions can cause progressive dementia.

At Golden Stae Neuropsychology, our neuropsychological experts perform the evaluations that aid doctors in diagnosing the type of dementia. Testing is verbal and with paper and pencil; there are no invasive procedures. The doctor typically orders neuropsychological testing along with brain scans and laboratory work.

After tests are scored, the neuropsychologist meets with you and your family. The feedback provides information about independent living, driving, and important financial management issues. Sometimes legal questions are primary, such as assigning Power of Attorney or ability to sign a will or trust.

When the experts at Golden State Neuropsychology complete the report, you can be sure that your family member's cognitive abilities, emotional factors, functional status, and personality features were thoroughly assessed and integrated. Your family member and the rest of the family will receive a diagnosis, as well as compassionate recommendations and answers to your questions.

What should I do if I have more questions? Please feel free to contact Scott Mellor if you have any questions at (805) 379-4939 or (818) 518-1057.