Alzheimer’s disease can feel like an overwhelming topic – and a diagnosis can feel just the same. Fortunately, advancements in research surrounding Alzheimer’s have helped those affected by the disease to live comfortable and happy lives. If you or your loved one suspects the possibility of a memory loss illness, be sure to see a physician as soon as possible. An early diagnosis is important and can help accelerate care options.
How does a medical professional diagnose Alzheimer's? A medical evaluation often includes gathering a person’s health history, a physical exam, lab testing, and neuropsychological testing.
Gathering Health History
The first step, when a memory loss illness is suspected, is to gather as much background on the individual’s health as possible. A doctor will gather information from the patient and speak with those closest to them in order to find out more about their family’s medical history, the development of the suspected symptoms, and the recent changes in the individual’s behavior and mood. This will lay a firm foundation for the tests to follow.
Physical Examinations & Lab Tests
A doctor, or another medical professional, will conduct a series of physical and laboratory tests to cancel out other causes of memory loss symptoms. The patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, sight, and hearing will all be recorded. Lab tests, such as a blood or urine analysis, may also be considered. In addition, the doctor may order brain scans such as an MRI, CT, or PET scan. These exams will gather information to eliminate any other possible reasons for the dementia symptoms that are occurring.
Finally, a doctor will conduct memory tests to examine the degree of cognitive recall. Here, cognitive skills will be examined to evaluate problem-solving abilities, ability to practice attention, abstract thinking, and language usage.
Any of these tests on their own cannot diagnose Alzheimer's. Based on individual circumstances, a doctor will customize examinations to gather the necessary information for a proper evaluation.
If you or your loved one are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, find support within the Artis Senior Living community. We offer those with a memory loss illness the opportunity to actively engage with the world, find positive growth, and enrich their daily lives. To discover more information about Alzheimer’s, memory care communities, and caring for a diagnosed loved one, visit the Artis Senior Living blog.