Diagnosing dementia, and where possible what type someone has, is important. You can see your doctor if you’re worried about symtoms.


If you are worried about dementia symptoms in yourself or someone else, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Diagnosing dementia, and where possible the type that someone has, is important. It means that the right treatments, support and help can be given, and people can plan for the future.

During the appointment the doctor will:

  • Ask about your symptoms and how they are affecting you.
  • Ask a relative or close friend if they have noticed any changes.
  • Check your medical history.
  • Give you a physical check-up, checking your blood pressure and balance.
  • Run a blood test, to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms like vitamin deficiencies and thyroid disorders. They may also ask you for a urine sample.
  • Ask you to do some memory and thinking tests.

If your doctor suspects dementia, you may be referred to a memory clinic or another specialist doctor. Here you may have another physical check-up and complete some more memory and thinking tests.

Brain scans such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be used to help make a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia. They allow the doctor to look for changes in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, commonly affected in this type of dementia.

In situations where there is a strong family history of FTD, you may be offered genetic counselling and testing as part of your diagnosis. This is to identify whether you have a faulty gene inherited by a parent who also had FTD. You will be supported by specialist doctors if you decide to undergo genetic testing. You can find more information about genes and FTD here, or contact Rare Dementia Support who can provide more information about this.

FTD is an uncommon form of dementia, not often seen by doctors. Therefore it can take longer than usual to get the right diagnosis.

What is frontotemporal dementia?

Information in this introductory booklet is for anyone who wants to know more about frontotemporal dementia (FTD). This includes people living with FTD, their carers, families and friends.

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Order health information

Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.

This information was updated in December 2021 and is due for review in January 2024. it was written by Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Information Services team with input from lay and expert reviewers. Please get in touch if you’d like a version with references or in a different format.

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Dementia Research Infoline

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