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What Can a Neurologist Do for Dementia

Dementia is a serious condition that affects millions of people, making everyday activities and memories difficult. Neurologists are doctors who specialize in brain and nervous system disorders and play a key role in helping people with dementia. Understanding what a neurologist can do for dementia can help you know how to get the right medical care.

Diagnosing Dementia

1. Thorough Check-Up

A neurologist for dementia will start with a detailed check-up to determine if someone has dementia. This includes:

  • Medical History: Learning about the patient’s past health issues and symptoms, including any family history of dementia. It’s important to include a history of any concussions or head injuries, even if they were mild and fully resolved, as these can impact brain pathophysiology and influence the treatment of dementia by introducing different mechanisms underlying the problem.
  • Physical Exam: Checking how the brain and nerves are working, like testing reflexes and balance.
  • Memory and Thinking Tests: Testing memory, problem-solving skills, and other thinking abilities.

2. Advanced Brain Scans

Neurologists use advanced scans to look at the brain in detail. These scans include:

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): Takes detailed pictures of the brain.
  • CT (Computed Tomography) Scans: Finds any abnormalities in the brain.
  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scans: Includes tau PET and amyloid PET scans to see specific changes in the brain related to dementia.

3. Lab Tests

Lab tests can help rule out other conditions that might look like dementia. These tests might include blood tests, spinal fluid tests, and genetic testing.

Understanding the Impact of Prior Concussions

Recent studies have shown that a history of concussions or head injuries, even if they were mild and appeared to have fully resolved, can significantly impact brain health long term. Evidence has shown that passing out or not with head injuries does not matter when it comes to long-term outcomes. These traumatic events can lead to changes in brain structure and function, contributing to the development of dementia later in life. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to share your history regarding any prior head injuries or any type of accidents to your doctors when being evaluated or treated for dementia.

What These Findings Mean for Patients

These findings highlight the importance of a comprehensive medical history that includes any past head injuries, no matter how minor they seemed at the time. For patients, this means being thorough when discussing their health history with their neurologist. Even if a concussion occurred years ago and seemed to have no lasting effects, it could be a critical piece of information for diagnosing and treating dementia.

Treating and Managing Dementia

1. Medications

A dementia specialist neurologist can prescribe medicines to help manage dementia symptoms. Common medications include:

  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors: Improve memory and thinking.
  • Memantine: Helps with memory and learning.
  • Antidepressants and Antipsychotics: Treat mood and behavior changes.

2. Supportive Therapies

Neurologists often suggest lifestyle changes and therapies to help dementia patients. These may include:

  • Cognitive Therapy: Activities and exercises to improve memory and thinking.
  • Physical Therapy: Helps keep the body moving and strong.
  • Occupational Therapy: Assists with daily activities and maintaining independence.

3. Managing Other Health Issues

Many dementia patients also have other health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure. Neurologists help manage these conditions to keep the patient healthy overall.

Helping Families and Caregivers

1. Information and Resources

Neurologists who specialize in dementia provide valuable information to families and caregivers. This includes:

  • Disease Progression: What to expect as dementia progresses.
  • Care Tips: How to care for and communicate with someone who has dementia.
  • Support Groups: Connecting families with groups for shared experiences and advice.

2. Future Planning

Neurologists help families plan for the future, including decisions about long-term care and legal matters.

Participating in Clinical Trials

Neurologists often know about clinical trials for new dementia treatments. They can:

  • Identify Candidates: Determine if a patient can join a clinical trial.
  • Monitor Progress: Track how the patient responds to new treatments.
  • Support Research: Help advance the understanding and treatment of dementia.

Finding an Experienced Neurologist Near You

If you need the best neurologist for dementia near me, here’s how to find one:

  1. Ask for Referrals: Talk to your primary care doctor for recommendations.
  2. Research Online: Look for reviews and ratings of neurologists who specialize in dementia.
  3. Contact Local Hospitals: Many hospitals have neurologists and can help you find a dementia neurologist near me.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why see a neurologist for dementia? Neurologists specialize in diseases of the brain and spine, and can provide a thorough evaluation for screening and initiate the indicated diagnostic workup and prescribe the first steps in the personalized treatment plan.

How often should a dementia patient see a neurologist? This depends on the stage of the dementia. For patients in the preclinical phase, they should see their neurologist every 6-12 months to monitor progress and adjust dementia-preventative treatments.

How does a doctor diagnose dementia? Applying a combination of the Neurologic examination, cognitive exam, and Neurologic history and evaluating the trend in clinical deficits with various combinations of screening tests, such as for memory and thinking changes, using advanced brain neurodiagnostics and scans, along with lab blood tests. But nothing alone makes the diagnosis by itself. Rather, all the findings and results together have to be localized to the diagnosis of dementia.

What type of doctor treats dementia? Most Neurologists can screen and complete neurodiagnostics to establish the presence of dementia. However, a subspecialized Neurologist with a focus on Neurodegenerative diseases, such as a Cognitive and behavioral Neurologist, is the best for managing Neurotherapeutics for dementia.

What to ask a neurologist about dementia? When meeting with a neurologist, ask questions like:

  • What type of dementia is it?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • How can we manage symptoms and improve quality of life?
  • Are there any clinical trials we should consider?
  • What lifestyle changes can help?


Dementia Specialists are essential for diagnosing, managing, and treating dementia. By using a combination of thorough check-ups, advanced brain scans, and lab tests, they can accurately identify the condition and tailor treatment plans to each patient’s unique situation. Understanding the impact of past concussions and head injuries is crucial in this process, as these can significantly influence brain health and the development of dementia. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of dementia, talk to your doctor about a neurological evaluation. Remember to provide a complete medical history, including any past head injuries, to ensure the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Get Help for Dementia Today

For more information and personalized care, visit With offices in New York City’s five boroughs and Long Island, it’s easy to schedule an appointment with an experienced dementia neurologist near you. We accept most insurance plans, and same-day appointments may be available.

About The Author

Picture of Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D. is a highly respected neurologist based in New York City. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neurology, he has earned a reputation as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Malhotra is also a dedicated educator and researcher. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at national and international conferences.