Reading The Signs – Diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

The onset of Alzheimer’s disease varies with individuals. The symptoms may be similar, though the severity and frequency of symptoms may not be so in different persons. People should opt for Alzheimer’s diagnosis when they experience difficulty in memory retention process and communication abilities. Experiencing problems with memory is a warning sign that a person’s health is not as good as it used to be. One can decide if he or she requires assistance from a general physician using the following self-assessment methods:

  • Trouble with forming memories and retaining new information
  • Trouble handling money and making decisions
  • Difficulty in following instructions
  • Difficulty in communicating with the right vocabulary

These are early symptoms that should be taken into account as an indication of an underlying health problem. Reading the signs will help in early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's.

The Importance Of Early Diagnosis

Awareness on Alzheimer’s disease would have revealed that there is no cure for this brain-deteriorating illness. Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the condition lasts till the time of death. The middle and final stages of the ailment are difficult for the patient, as well as caregivers. Early diagnosis can be useful in commencing a treatment regimen that can improve the quality of life of the patient. This early intervention can delay the onset of moderate to severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The patient can live for a longer period, independent of round the clock support from caregivers. To help with early diagnosis, friends, family, and the patient too can track the person’s sudden mental and behavioral changes. Preparing a list ahead of a consultation can help the physician with the diagnosis as one may not remember all the symptoms at the time. This will enable the medical practitioner to decide if tests and assessments are required in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

Assessments And Tests Used In Diagnosis

Initial diagnostics conducted by healthcare providers include a review of the patient’s past medical history, age and sex, current health complaints, psychosocial history, and mental stability. A physical examination comprises of checking vital signs, sensory response to stimuli, chest, lungs, heart, bone strength, and the nervous system. Following these tests, the presiding doctor may conduct one or more of the following medical tests:

  • Lab tests – they are conducted on blood tissue samples to check the presence of certain fluids that indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. This can also be looked upon as a routine checkup to rule out other diseases.
  • Spinal tap – this is done by collecting fluid from the spinal column and running tests on the same. It is useful in detecting disorders of the central nervous system and brain.
  • CT Scan & MRI – both theses imaging techniques can reveal if there is any significant change to the brain, like brain atrophy which is characteristic of Alzheimer's patients.
  • EEG & ECG – these two imaging and reading techniques can help doctor’s understand if the brain’s functioning is impaired or not, and if the heart is regulating the blood flow to the brain at the required rate. Scanning systems are non-invasive methods that can help in making an accurate diagnosis.
What To Do If You Receive A Positive Diagnosis?

Persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will find it difficult in processing the information initially. Support from friends and family is essential under these circumstances. One can start looking at the available treatment options by first finding a suitable physician that the patient is comfortable with seeing on a regular basis. Primary care for Alzheimer’s patients is provided by different specialists, including psychologists, neurologists, and psychiatrists. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, important decisions like finances, treatment plan, and living facilities should be taken care of.