Alzheimer's is diagnosed through a complete medical assessment. If you or a loved one have concerns about memory loss or other symptoms of Alzheimer's or dementia, it is important to be evaluated by a physician.
Steps to diagnosis
There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer's. While physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, it may be difficult to determine the exact cause. Diagnosing Alzheimer's requires careful medical evaluation, including:
Having trouble with memory does not mean you have Alzheimer's. Many health issues can cause problems with memory and thinking. When dementia-like symptoms are caused by treatable conditions — such as depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies — they may be reversed.
Learn more: What Is Alzheimer's? and Other Types of Dementia
Places to Start
Experts estimate a skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer's with more than 90 percent accuracy. The first step in following up on symptoms is finding a doctor you feel comfortable with. Many people contact their regular primary care physician or internist about their concerns regarding memory loss. Primary care doctors often oversee the diagnostic process themselves.
Your primary care doctor may refer you to a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
- Neurologists, who specialize in diseases of the brain and nervous system
- Psychiatrists, who specialize in disorders that affect mood or the way the mind works
- Psychologists with special training in testing memory and other mental functions
Join AlzConnected, our message boards and online social networking community, and learn strategies from others to effectively communicate with doctors to get the best care possible.
Importance of Early Diagnosis
Although the onset of Alzheimer's disease cannot yet be stopped or reversed, an early diagnosis allows people with dementia and their families: