How Alzheimer’s is Diagnosed

When you think a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it can be tempting to look for a quick and easy diagnosis.How Alzheimer's Is Diagnosed

While new research shows potential to diagnose Alzheimer’s through simple tests, such as retina tests or even a peanut butter smell test, actually diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires a careful medical evaluation by a skilled physician. Learn more.

How Alzheimer’s is Diagnosed

It is important to note that there is no single test that can diagnose Alzheimer’s. At one time, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis was only able to be confirmed after a person had died and doctors were able to perform an autopsy on the brain.

Today, a physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with 90% accuracy while the person is still living. A medical evaluation will often include:

  • Patient History
  • Physical Exam & Lab Tests
  • Neuropsychological Testing

Patient History

At this stage of diagnosis, the doctor will speak with the patient, friends, and family to gain an understanding of:

  • The patient’s emotional/mental state
  • The development of symptoms
  • The family’s health history

Physical Examination

A physical examination includes taking the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and evaluating sight and hearing. Lab tests, such as blood or urine tests, may also be taken that would eliminate any other cause of symptoms. In addition, doctors may request brain scans such as an MRI, CT, or PET scan. These scans could help doctors rule out other reasons for dementia symptoms such as a brain tumor.

Neuropsychological Testing

At this stage, doctors will assess a patient’s mental status by asking a series of questions. Some basic questions asked in this test are:

  • What is today’s date?
  • Do you know where you are?
  • Can you count backwards from 100?

While the diagnosis process can seem daunting, the benefits of early diagnosis can not be overstated. Be on the lookout for these signs of Alzheimer’s and take action quickly if necessary.

How was your loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Share your story with us in the comments below. 

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