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These core clinical core criteria apply to all forms of dementia. To diagnose specific types of dementia originating from different conditions, additional criteria apply. For example, there are additional clinical criteria for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

In the United States, for dementia a PHYSICIAN (AKA MEDICAL DOCTOR) has to confirm #1, #2, #3, and #4 as stated in the diagram. For branch 5, the expert needs to find at least 2 of the 5 stated changes in functioning. Biomarkers may also be examined during various stages of diagnosis.

DO NOT TRY TO DIAGNOSE YOURSELF OR A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER EVEN IF YOU ARE A PHYSICIAN. These clinical criteria need to be addressed by an independent, experienced physician, ideally a neurologist or a psychiatrist. That physician will need to examine the potential patient in person. If you question the diagnosis by the original physician, see another independent medical doctor to confirm the subjective judgments that go into diagnosing dementia.

Identifying dementia as early as possible may make it easier to control symptoms and productively prepare for the future. That is what happened for me. Seek the advice of a medical doctor. You need not be over 65 to have dementia. A skilled neurological diagnostician may be able to diagnose the problem decades before you are 65.

The author of this mind map is a retired psychologist living with dementia and does not have the skills or licensure to make a diagnosis of dementia of any form. This blog post and the mind map are not medical advice nor do they permit you to diagnose yourself or another person. GO SEE A MEDICAL DOCTOR if you have a question or concern about yourself or another individual and wish to obtain an expert diagnosis from an individual trained and licensed to render such a judgment.

The citation for the journal article giving the criteria is shown within the mind map that follows. The recommendations come from a large Workgroup on Diagnostic Guidelines for Alzheimer’s Disease funded by the US National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association and were published in 2011 in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia in a paper written by G McKhann and collaborators.

Click on the diagram to expand it.


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