Last Updated: August 13, 2019
When you think a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it can be tempting to look for an easy and quick diagnosis. While new research shows potential to diagnose Alzheimer’s through simple tests, such as blood tests or retina tests, actually diagnosing the disease requires a careful medical evaluation by a skilled physician.
Learn more about how Alzheimer’s is diagnosed and what to do if you think your parent or senior loved one has the disease.
How Alzheimer’s Is Diagnosed by a Doctor
At one time, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis was only able to be confirmed after a person had passed away and doctors were able to perform an autopsy on the brain. Today, however, a physician can diagnose the disease with 90% accuracy while the person is still living.
It is important to note that there is no single test that can diagnose Alzheimer’s or dementia.
A medical evaluation will often include the following:
1. Patient history.
At this stage of diagnosis, the doctor will speak with the patient, family, and friends to gain an understanding of:
- The development of symptoms
- The family’s health history
- The patient’s emotional/mental state
2. Physical examination.
A physical examination includes taking the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and evaluating hearing and sight. Lab tests, such as blood or urine tests, may also be taken that would eliminate any other cause of Alzheimer’s symptoms. In addition, doctors may request brain scans such as a CT, MRI or PET scan.
These scans could help doctors rule out other reasons for dementia symptoms, such as a brain tumor.
3. 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:
- Can you count backward from 100?
- Do you know where you are?
- What is today’s date?
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? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.