One of the requirements to write a valid will is a sound mind. Diseases and physical conditions that affect the functioning of the brain can reduce someone’s mental capacity. If an individual attempted to write a will following the diagnosis of such a condition, the document may not be valid.

Dementia is not a disease in itself. Rather, it is a collection of symptoms related to the loss of cognitive function. There are a number of diseases that can produce symptoms of dementia. To diagnose the precise cause, a doctor may perform a series of tests.

Brain scans

To determine the cause of cognitive dysfunction, doctors often look at images of the patient’s brain. Positron emission tomography and computed tomography use radiation to produce images of the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging, on the other hand, employs radio waves and magnetic fields. Visually identifying abnormalities in the brain can indicate the cause of the symptoms or at least help doctors narrow it down.

Cognitive/neuropsychological tests

These tests allow for the assessment of mental function. They evaluate patients’ abilities in regard to math and language skills, problem-solving and memory.

Laboratory tests

These involve collecting a sample of a bodily fluid such as blood. The sample then goes to a lab where technicians check the levels of vitamins, hormones and other chemicals.

Genetic testing

Some people are genetically predisposed to certain conditions that can produce symptoms of dementia. Genetic testing can identify any abnormalities that are present, letting patients know whether their risk is high or low.

Psychiatric evaluation

Sometimes a mental health condition contributes to a person’s symptoms of dementia. A psychiatric evaluation can determine whether such a condition is present.

Some of the most well-known causes of dementia affect the elderly most often. However, there are others that can affect people of any age. In certain of these cases, it may be possible to reverse the dementia symptoms by treating the underlying condition, which could restore one’s mental capacity. In many other cases, however, the symptoms result from permanent, irreversible damage to the brain.