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How Is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?

a senior woman sits in a chair while a nurse holds her shoulders while explaining how is alzheimer's diagnosed

Alzheimer’s is a serious disease that impacts millions of families each year. A diagnosis can require changes in lifestyle and sometimes a transition to senior memory care. If you’ve been wondering, “How is Alzheimer’s diagnosed?” Buckner Retirement Services can help you better understand how medical professionals diagnose the disease.

At Buckner Retirement Services, we provide a variety of care for senior citizens, including memory care. Call us today at 214.227.7182 to learn more about our services.

How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

Alzheimer’s disease presents in many different ways depending on the individual and can only be diagnosed by a doctor. Before taking a loved one to a doctor’s appointment, it is understandable to wonder how is Alzheimer’s diagnosed. Doctors conduct memory tests, brain imaging, and laboratory tests to diagnose.

Doctor Exams and Tests

The most common way Alzheimer’s is diagnosed is by a doctor’s exam, during which they will ask a series of questions and may administer memory tests. They may ask questions about the following:

  • A decline in cognitive skills
  • Signs of impaired memory
  • Changes in personality
  • Whether memory problems affect daily life
  • Other potential causes of symptoms

Doctors may administer tests for both short-term and long-term memory. They may also talk to close friends, family members, or caregivers to get a fuller picture of the symptoms.

Brain Imaging

Brain scans alone do not tell medical professionals enough to make an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. So how is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed through brain imaging? The answer is brain imaging is one factor of many that will inform a diagnosis.

Doctors often look at brain scans to determine whether there is, in fact, brain deterioration and, if there is, determine whether the cause is Alzheimer’s or not. Several other underlying medical conditions can impact the brain and lead to symptoms that look similar to Alzheimer’s.

Laboratory Tests

Laboratory tests are often used in Alzheimer’s diagnosis to rule out other causes and to look for markers. Certain thyroid disorders and vitamin deficiencies can lead to symptoms that look similar to Alzheimer’s. Doctors may also request a spinal fluid test that can reveal proteins that are consistent with the presence of Alzheimer’s.

Early Signs to Look Out for

It is not unusual for senior adults to experience some level of memory loss as they get older. However, it is essential to look out for the signs of Alzheimer’s so that a diagnosis can happen sooner rather than later. Early signs to look out for include:

  • Difficulty remembering specific events
  • Difficulty remembering where items are
  • Problems using everyday items
  • Forgetting chores or how to do chores
  • Confusion with location or time
  • Language problems
  • Sudden changes in mood

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms, and each person has different symptoms. Keeping an eye out for the signs can make a big difference in getting an early diagnosis.

Benefits of an Early Diagnosis

Now that you know how Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, you may wonder why a diagnosis must happen. The sooner a proper diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is made, the sooner you and your family can take steps to get the appropriate treatment, care, and future plans. With an early diagnosis, doctors can recommend medical and nonmedical interventions. It gives more time for an individual to learn what they respond well to and what they don’t. Some seniors may also be eligible for clinical trials for cutting-edge treatment.

Learn More About How Alzheimer’s Is Diagnosed at Buckner Retirement Services

We know that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis profoundly impacts families at Buckner Retirement Services. Our staff has years of experience caring for seniors with memory and cognitive issues. We are here if you are still wondering how Alzheimer’s is diagnosed and can answer your questions about memory care. To learn more about care at Buckner Retirement Services, contact us today at 214.227.7182.