Can a doctor diagnose someone with dementia just by looking at them?
February 8, 2013 1:21 PM Subscribe
My dad went to a doctor; the doctor told him, out of nowhere, he had early-onset dementia. What gives?
posted by orangutan to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
My mother went to her doctor for her annual checkup. My dad accompanied her. When he saw that the waiting room was empty, he scheduled an impromptu appointment for his busted shoulder. I don't know if this is relevant, but this woman is not my father's doctor and had never seen him before this appointment. Also, if this helps, my mom claims she's never talked about my father to her doctor, either.
The doctor recommended physiotherapy for my dad's shoulder. He also found out he had high blood pressure. So far, so normal.
She then, apropos of nothing, asked my father if he'd had memory issues. My father has always had issues with short-term memory since I can remember (since he was, say, in his mid-thirties). So my father told her that, but nothing that had gotten worse. She asked my father if his job performance was affected by his memory loss. (?)
She then told him that he had early-onset dementia. It was beginning, she said, and it would get progressively worse as time went on.
This seems kind of strange. She doesn't know my father's medical history. None of us (my mother, myself or my brother) have noticed any deterioration in my father's memory or in any other cognitive function. When my father asked her how she could know, she said that she just knew. (Then, when he asked her if it was her "physician's intuition", and she repeated that no, she just knew.) She also kept calling my dad "Sri" when his name is "Sid", though he corrected her repeated times. I'm not sure if that's relevant, but it happened, so I'm including it.
Admittedly I am not a doctor and neither is the internet. But I did read that a diagnosis of dementia usually takes six months of rigorous multi-disciplinal testing. And, though I do have a family history of dementia, most of those people experienced dementia in their eighties and nineties. I'm not saying that the diagnosis is impossible -- though it is really fucking scary -- but can a doctor really make these conclusions on such little information?