Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease
If you or a loved one begin to show signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to consult a doctor for a diagnosis. Memory loss, behavior changes, trouble with speech and decision making are some warning signs which may be indicative of Alzheimer’s. What makes this disease so difficult to diagnose is the fact that it shares symptoms with other common conditions such as depression, poor nutrition and taking medicines that do not work well together. It is possible for a doctor to find out whether these symptoms are occurring due to Alzheimer’s or some other disease.
An early diagnosis can help prepare for the future. There are medications available to control the symptoms in primary stages of Alzheimer’s. These drugs may prevent symptoms from getting any worse for 6-12 months.
Some common symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
- Memory impairment
- Difficulty in planning, problem solving and concentration
- Difficulty in carrying out daily tasks
- Confusion regarding location and passage of time
- Showing visual and space comprehension difficulties
- Reduced vocabulary and problem finding words
- Poor judgment in decisions
- Withdrawing from social or work events
- Mood changes or other behavioral changes
Doctors are unable to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s until after death when the brain can be carefully examined under a microscope. There are tests in place which can rule out other conditions with the same symptoms.
To assess for Alzheimer’s a doctor will:
- Ask the patient, or loved one, questions on the patient’s overall health. This includes the use of prescription and over the counter medication, diet, medical history, behavioral changes and the ability to function in a regular manner.
- Conduct tests that measure memory, attention, problem-solving, counting and language ability.
- Determine other causes of the symptoms by carrying out routine blood and urine tests.
- Perform medical tests such as a CT scan, an MRI or a PET to rule out possible causes of the symptoms displayed.
Securing an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can prove to be beneficial in the long run even without the existence of a definite cure. Doctors can begin to prescribe medicines that fight the symptoms. The patient and family members can be taught how to effectively deal with the disease by affecting minor changes in the living environment that will minimize the impact of the disease on everyday life.
Need more help?
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease is difficult. The therapists at Agor Behavioral Health Services are available to assist families navigating diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment by calling 630-621-5824.