THESE ARE EXCITING TIMES in the field of dementia care. Scarcely a week goes by without the publication of new research findings that provide a better understanding of some aspect of the early diagnosis, potential treatment or prevention of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. We are on the cusp of being able to reliably identify people before they develop symptoms of dementia and, more importantly, being able to provide interventions that will significantly reduce or eliminate their risk of developing dementia. Just how far away this may be and how effective the interventions may be are matters for speculation. In this chapter, with the assistance of some internationally recognised dementia specialists, I provide some educated guesswork about these issues.
Most experts agree that the accurate detection of individuals with pre-symptomatic dementia is an essential prerequisite for the prevention and successful treatment of various types of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease. There are a number of ways that this could be achieved, including diagnostic tests of blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); various types of brain scans; and other tests of brain function. It is likely that a combination of approaches might be necessary to achieve sufficient diagnostic accuracy.
These days most people are used to their doctor ordering blood and urine tests that assist in the diagnosis of their medical condition. Some tests are diagnostic of specific illnesses, for