Diagnosing dementia with Lewy bodies 

Confirming a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult, particularly when the condition is in its early stages. This is because many of the symptoms of dementia can also be caused by other conditions.

For dementia with Lewy bodies to be diagnosed correctly, you will have a number of tests and assessments, including:

Some of these tests can be carried out by your GP. Some will be carried out by other specialists, such as a neurologist (an expert in treating conditions that affect the brain and nervous system), an elderly care physician, or a psychiatrist with experience of treating dementia.

Assessing your mental abilities

The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) is widely used to help test mental ability.

The MMSE can be used to assess a number of different mental abilities, including:

  • short- and long-term memory
  • attention span
  • concentration
  • language and communication skills
  • ability to plan
  • ability to understand instructions

The MMSE involves a series of tasks, which together carry a maximum score of 30 points. Example tasks include:

  • memorising a short list of objects and then repeating the list back
  • correctly identifying the day of the week, the date, or the year

The MMSE is not a test to diagnose dementia, but it's useful for assessing the level of mental impairment a person with dementia may have.

Page last reviewed: 22/01/2015

Next review due: 22/01/2017