Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed after other conditions are ruled out. If you are suffering from a decline in mental abilities (dementia), your health professional will attempt to find out if another treatable condition may be causing those symptoms.
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How quickly dementia progresses depends on what is causing it and the area of the brain that is affected. Some types of dementia progress slowly over several years. Other types may progress more rapidly.
A person's medical history and a physical exam are important parts of the evaluation when the person has symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.Medical historyThe doctor will ask questions during a medical history to assess a person's past and current overall health and to find out how well the person functions. This process may be complicated if the person isn't able to remember important parts of his or her medical history or isn't aware of the memory loss. A family member can be very helpful in providing information about the person's symptoms, such as when the symptoms were first noticed, how quickly they developed, and whether they have continued to get worse.Other important information in a medical history includes: Other medical problems the person has or has had, such as a stroke, Parkinson's disease, HIV infection, depression, a head injury, heart disease, or lipid disorders (problems with cholesterol levels). In some cases, illnesses can cause confusion or other signs
A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or another dementia often raises some important legal and financial issues for the future. The person with dementia should be involved in these decisions as long as he or she is able and willing to be involved.Obtain professional legal advice as soon as possible. Early in the course of the disease, the person with dementia may be capable of participating in legal and financial planning. State and local bar associations will be able to provide the names of attorneys practicing in your area who deal with these issues.For certain types of legal advice, the Legal Aid Society, the local Area Agency on Aging, or the Alzheimer's Association will be able to help you find legal assistance at low cost.As soon as possible after the condition is diagnosed, talk about writing a living will and assigning a durable power of attorney for health care. These documents will ensure that the person's wishes for medical care, especially life-sustaining treatment, are in