How Is Alzheimer's Diagnosed? Video
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Video:How Is Alzheimer's Diagnosed?

with Tiffany Cloud-Mann

Doctors can diagnose Alzheimer's with 90 percent accuracy, but it does require a thorough medical evaluation. Learn about how Alzheimer's is diagnosed in this health video from Transcript

Transcript:How Is Alzheimer's Diagnosed?

Hi, I am Tiffany Cloud-Mann, Vice President of Programs & Outreach with the Alzheimer¹s Association. Today, I am going to tell how Alzheimer's is diagnosed.

Alzheimer's vs Dementia

Alzheimer's is diagnosed by having a complete medical assessment. If you are concerned about memory loss or other symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's for you or a loved one, it is important to be seen by a physician. There is no single test that can determine if a person has Alzheimer's. Physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, however it may bedifficult to determine the exact cause. 

Diagnosing Alzheimer's requires careful medical evaluation, including: A thorough medical history, mental status testing, a physical and neurological exam, and tests such at bloodwork and brain imaging to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms.

Having trouble with memory does not mean you have Alzheimer's. Many health issues can cause problems with memory and thinking. When dementia-like symptoms are caused by treatable conditions, such as depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies, they may be reversed.

Physicians and Diagnosing Alzheimer's

Experts estimate a skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer's with more than 90 percent accuracy. The first step in following up on symptoms is finding a doctor you feel comfortable with. Many people contact their regular primary care physician or internist about their concerns regarding memory loss.

Primary care doctors often oversee the diagnostic process themselves. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Specialists include: Neurologists, who specialize in diseases of the brain and the nervous system; Psychiatrists, who specialize in disorders that affect mood or the way the mind works; and Psychologists with special training in testing memory and other mental functions.

Preparing for your doctor's visit is also very important. Keep a list of when you notice the symptoms and get input from your family and friends. Let the doctor know if you have any other health concerns or have had any in the past. Take all of your medications with you to the doctor, including vitamins, so that the doctor can evaluate what you are taking and the side effects.

Early Diagnosis is Important

Early Diagnosis is important. Although the onset of Alzheimer's disease cannot yet be stopped or reversed, an early diagnosis allows people with dementia and their families to have a better chance of benefiting from treatment, more time to plan for the future, lessened anxieties about unknown problems and increased chances of participating in clinical drug trials helping to advance research.

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