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Alzheimers Disease & How to get a Diagnosis - DementiaGuide.com
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About Dementia
Alzheimer's Disease


The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease remains as what is known in medicine as a clinical diagnosis. That means that the diagnosis cannot be made by a blood test, X-ray (even an MRI ) or any other machine, but by an expert physician. The physician makes the diagnosis by speaking to the person with Alzheimer's disease, by asking specific questions of that person and of someone who knows them well. Mental tests are often conducted, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). A physical examination and laboratory tests are also commonly completed to make sure that other causes are not present.

To diagnose Alzheimer's disease, the physician must first diagnose that dementia is present. Next, Alzheimer's disease needs to be established as the cause of the dementia. One method of doing this is detailed in Understanding Dementia. The book's authors set out four questions that need to be addressed whenever a physician is asked to evaluate a memory complaint:

1. Does the person with a memory complaint have a memory problem? Sometimes other causes, such as depression or even deafness can be mistaken for a memory problem.

2. What type of memory problem? Here, we are trying to answer a few specific and crucial questions:

a)Is it a memory problem on its own, or is it seen together with impairments of other parts ofcognition,suchaslanguage,attention and concentration, calculation and drawing?

b) Is the problem new (or worse)?

c) Does the problem interfere with function? Does it mean that the person has to limit their work, or social dealings,or what they do around the house?

3. What is the cause?

4. What can we do to help the person?

It is common for a person to have even more questions and concerns about the disease after receiving a diagnosis. For example, they may wonder what to expect in the future or what their treatment options are. Due to the fact that often times Alzheimer's disease tends to run in families, other members of the family may have questions about the disease as well. These questions are best suited for your family doctor , so it may be helpful to schedule an appointment to learn more about the disease and to express your concerns.

See Also:
About Dementia > Working with your Doctor > Getting a CT or MRI
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Last updated December 4, 2018
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