Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed after other
conditions are ruled out. Your doctor will use a variety of tests to do this.
is helpful to have a family member or someone in close contact with the person
present at the appointment. A family member may be able to provide the best
information about how a person's day-to-day functioning, memory, and
personality have changed.
The Oscar-nominated movie Away from Her portrays a long-married
couple struggling with Alzheimer's disease and the emotional toll it causes when
the wife, played by actress Julie Christie, gives her affection to another man
whom she meets in a nursing home.
This heart-wrenching and emotional dramatization of Alzheimer's brings home
the difficulties families face when a person's ability to recognize and
maintain relationships gradually declines -- especially when the relationship
The doctor will use a medical history and physical exam to help find out if a physical problem may be causing the person's
symptoms. Sometimes another problem can cause the same symptoms as Alzheimer's.
Lab tests may be done to rule out other possible causes of a person's
symptoms, such as levels of certain minerals or chemicals in the blood, liver disease, abnormal thyroid levels, or nutritional
problems, such as folate or vitamin B12 deficiencies. Treatment for these
conditions may slow or reverse mental decline.