What Tests Are Used to Diagnose Alzheimer's Disease?
In spite of the fact that it is so common, Alzheimer's disease often goes unrecognized or is misdiagnosed in its early stages. Many doctors and nurses, patients, and family members mistakenly view the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease as the inevitable consequences of aging.
The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease often come on slowly. It might start when someone has trouble recalling things that just happened or putting thoughts into words. But over time, the problems get worse. People in the later stages of the disease usually can’t live alone or care for themselves.
There are three main phases of Alzheimer's: mild, moderate, and severe. Each stage has its own set of symptoms.
To identify any treatable condition and initiate treatment as appropriate
To identify Alzheimer's disease at the earliest possible stage; this gives the patient and family time to plan for the future needs and care of the patient. This also allows the patient to start using some medicines that are only useful in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's disease cannot be definitely diagnosed until after death, when the brain can be closely examined for certain microscopic changes caused by the disease.
However, through thorough testing and a "process of elimination," doctors today can diagnose what they refer to as probable Alzheimer's disease with almost 90% accuracy.
The following criteria may be used to help make a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease:
A history from the patient helps the doctor assess a person's past and current health situation. It also helps the doctor evaluate whether there are any medical problems, develop a plan of treatment, and monitor the patient's health over time.
During this evaluation, the doctor asks the person a series of questions. A thorough patient history includes:
Patient's identifying information
Information about the main problem, including any difficulties in daily living