Unfortunately, getting an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis is not simple. Your doctor can’t check for the disease by doing a quick blood test. That’s because signs of Alzheimer’s disease don't appear in your blood. Instead, Alzheimer’s disease is the result of a problem inside your brain.
The only way to be 100% certain a person suffers from Alzheimer’s disease is to examine samples of brain tissue. This can only be done during an autopsy, after a person has died.
Sundowning, or sundown syndrome, affects some people who have Alzheimer's disease and dementia. People with dementia who "sundown" get confused and agitated as the sun goes down -- and sometimes through the night.
Sundowning may prevent people with dementia from sleeping well. It may also make them more likely to wander. Due to the stress it puts on caregivers, sundowning is a common cause of caregiver burnout.
Doctors are still looking for ways to directly check the brain for Alzheimer’s disease. In the meantime, your doctor has many tests that help him or her diagnose this condition. These tests can provide an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis with about 90% accuracy.
Because it is difficult to diagnosis this condition, it’s a good idea to work with a doctor experienced in Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Doctors to consider include:
Primary care doctors with experience in treating people with Alzheimer’s disease
When looking for Alzheimer’s disease, doctors eliminate all other possible explanations of the symptoms. Dementia, for example, has many other causes besides Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these causes include vitamin deficiency and thyroid problems. With treatment, both these problems can be resolved.
Your doctor makes a “probable” Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis only when all other causes have been ruled out. Following are the steps your doctor will take while deciding on an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.
Step 1: A Complete Health History
Knowing about your health history helps your doctor discover whether there are other possible causes for your symptoms. For example, apathy is common in early- stage Alzheimer’s disease. Apathy may also be caused by depression. Your doctor will ask you about: