How Alzheimer’s Disease is Diagnosed

Overview

Published: 02/13/2012

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If you or a loved one are displaying signs of more than just typical forgetfulness and you have concerns that it may be Alzheimer’s disease, we at the Senior Care Society strongly suggest that you confide in a trusted loved one your concerns. Together with your confidant you should seek an evaluation by your physician. We suggest that you select a trusted family member or friend as a means of support in the event that you should receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, whether it is for yourself or that of your loved one. As with the care of any disease emotional support is an essential factor you will need and want, even in such a private matter. The following article is information on how to go about getting a diagnosis if you suspect it may be Alzheimer’s disease:

 

                           How Alzheimer’s Disease is Diagnosed Today

 

While it is true that Alzheimer’s disease can only be ascertained definitively after death through postmortem autopsy; by means of examining the brain and determining the definitive Alzheimer’s markers are present, still it is possible today for doctors to make an accurate assessment as to whether or not a patient has probable or possible Alzheimer’s dementia.

 

A patient who is having memory problems may be diagnosed with two different diagnosis; “possible Alzheimer’s dementia” means that the patient’s memory problems may be due to another cause and “probable Alzheimer’s dementia” being that no other probable cause for the dementia can be determined. Fortunately, today doctors have a multitude of testing tools and cognitive tests they utilize to make a relatively certain determination whether or not it is Alzheimer’s disease.

In order to make a proper diagnosis your doctor should perform the following:

  • Inquire about your; detailed medical history including your general health to date, ask about your ability to perform routine daily life functions and check for any changes in your personality or usual behaviors.
  • Take Scans; perform CT and/or MRI to rule out other causes such as tumors or stroke.
  • Perform standard tests such as; physical, blood and urine tests to rule out any other causes.
  • Ask about your recent; emotional state, stress level, or if any major life changes have occurred.
  • Conduct cognitive testing such as; speech/language, counting i.e. counting backwards from 400 by 4’s, problem solving, memory and attention tests.

 

Getting an accurate diagnosis as early as possible can be significant in your treatment protocol and while it cannot stop the ultimate progression of the disease, it can make a world of difference to both the patient and their family members, giving you valuable time to gather resources for treatment, planning, living arrangements and building a network of support.

Additionally, early treatment and diagnosis can help to preserve cognitive functions longer, as well as the diagnosis of other treatable disease or causes. Also if you choose, it may be possible to become involved in clinical trials of new drug therapies, testing and treatment protocols.

 

 Every day new strides in the research of Alzheimer’s disease are being made; it may be possible for you to become a part of this ground breaking wave of treatment and research not only for yourself, but for those millions of Alzheimer’s patients who will follow you in being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the future.

 

Please see Senior Care Society’s other relevant articles on Alzheimer’s disease or to find out more about clinical trials and research contact:  NIA’s ADEAR Center at 1-800-438-4380. Or, visit the ADEAR Center clinical trials database.

 

Senior Care Society is proud to have joined with the Alzheimer's Association as a member of the Alzheimer's Early Detection Alliance.  As a member we are committed to educating everyone about the warning signs of Alzheimer's and the importance of early detection.