Saturday, March 18, 2017
How is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?
In spite of all of the research done on Alzheimer’s and dementia, there is still no single test used to diagnose the disease. Rather the Alzheimer’s Association explains that a diagnosis is made based on “a careful medical history, a physical examination, laboratory tests, and the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day function and behavior associated with each type.”
In some cases a person with signs of the disease may be referred to a neurologist or geri-psychologist to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Laboratory testing includes blood tests and brain imaging, which are used to rule out other causes that may be contributing to dementia-like symptoms. Other conditions doctors are looking for are signs of depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, excessive use of alcohol and vitamin deficiencies. If memory loss does stem from any of these other causes, it can be dealt with and generally reversed.
Although Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, the Alzheimer’s Association emphasizes the importance of getting an early diagnosis as it gives someone a better chance of benefiting from available treatments. If you need the name of a physician who is experienced in Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases, contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for a referral. In addition the organization offers a worksheet that you can fill out beforehand to help prepare for your visit with your physician.
Another reason why it is beneficial to understand what is happening to you or your loved one is that it not only can lessen anxieties, but also provides your family more time to prepare for the future. Knowing what lies ahead also offers the individual an opportunity to be involved in future plans such as living options, care, transportation and financial matters.
This post is for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for seeking medical advice.
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