If I was in my 40s or 50s I would want to know if I was going to be demented in later life. I have undergone memory tests myself – the last time was around 10 years ago. Thankfully my results showed that my memory was good. If the initial tests had shown abnormality I would have opted in for MRI screening – to find out why my tests were poor. I agree that it is a good idea to offer testing for dementia to all older people as there are many good drugs to treat early stage Alzheimer’s. If I had been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s I would have opted to take these drugs.
Most of the tests in the UK National Screening programme are intellectual, involving memory tests, so they are not invasive at all. These are much cheaper to do than MRI screening. They read things out to you and then test how much you remember. These are the tests which were presented to me and which showed that my memory is good.
MRI scans are expensive – but if you get poor results on the intellectual memory tests it would be a good idea to have an MRI scan as there are many causes of dementia. This disease can also be caused by cerebral tumours, old head injuries, coronary disease and obstruction to the carotid arteries. Anything that affects the blood supply can affect the mind and intellect. This is why dementia is prevalent in older jockeys, who have suffered many bad falls, boxers and footballers.
Interestingly if you have had a good education (as most readers of the Hippocratic Post) will – you will score higher on the memory tests for dementia, even if you have very early dementia. This is because your memory will have been trained at university – so you’ll be better at doing these tests.