Alzheimer's - Screening, Detection and Diagnosis

Not all memory issues are signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Screening is essential to determine whether symptoms are a normal part of aging or something more serious. There are many methods for finding out, but all share a common goal: to identify potential causes early and provide you with more options if you receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

Man talking to his doctor about testing for Alzheimer's disease.
Man talking to his doctor about testing for Alzheimer's disease.
Man talking to his doctor about testing for Alzheimer's disease.

How is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Alzheimer's requires careful screening and evaluation. UsAgainstAlzheimer’s helps you better understand the tools and processes for Alzheimer’s screening, so you and your loved ones can make informed decisions based on your needs.

It helps to understand the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. As a first step you can take the BrainGuide memory questionnaire which can help guide you toward information and resources. The memory questionnaire does not diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or any other disease, but the results of the questionnaire can be helpful to you and your provider.

An older woman and her doctor sit down together to discuss her memory concerns

Talking with a Doctor

When signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s appear, it's important that you get a screening.

A visit to the doctor can feel scary or confusing. It can be especially hard for someone with memory problems. Preparing ahead of time can help you and your loved one. Think about what you want to say and what you want to ask. This will help the doctor understand your loved one’s symptoms. Then, they can give you and your loved one the information you need to know.

A husband and wife enjoy time together outdoors as he covers her shoulders with a shawl

Steps Towards Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Depending on the symptoms affecting you or a loved one, your doctor may use different methods to make a diagnosis. But, the more familiar you become with the methods and steps involved, the less stressful the process is likely to be.

A doctor shows her patient how to access the BrainGuide Memory Questionairre on her cell phone

Ask About Alzheimer’s Screening at Annual Visit

Your yearly doctor’s appointment, physical, or wellness visit is a great time to ask about brain health. Planning ahead gives you a chance to look for changes in your memory over a period of time. This will give your doctor better information about your brain and your memory. Then, they can check out any problems and help you keep your brain healthy.

A couple sits at their kitchen table reviewing resources on what they should expect at an Alzheimer's screening appointment

Exams for an Accurate Screening and Alzheimer’s Diagnosis:

During your doctor’s appointment, you should expect your doctor to complete a series of exams to help evaluate memory and cognitive skills, changes in personality or behaviors, and the potential causes of any symptoms. Your doctor will check your sense of sight and hearing, along with your coordination and balance. This neurological exam is a key element to understanding if another condition may be causing the memory concerns.

Your doctor may also suggest a neuropsychological exam. This exam will reveal cognitive strengths and weaknesses and allow you to discuss if concerns are part of normal aging, a neurological illness, depression, anxiety or other causes.

Complete Blood Count test will count levels of red and white blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets. An unusual increase or decrease in cell counts may call for further evaluation.

What Are The Benefits of an Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?

Early Alzheimer’s diagnosis can help give you or your loved one more time, which is the most valuable resource of all.

Time will allow you and your loved ones to plan for the future. Recent studies have also shown that making lifestyle changes can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Adopting a healthier diet can help improve brain health. Becoming more socially active can increase your cognitive health and responsiveness and reading more can help increase brain activity.

There are many ways you can learn how to live with Alzheimer’s disease. You can also find local resources for Alzheimer’s patients and caregiver's resources that can be consulted.

An older woman and her doctor sit down together to discuss her memory concerns

Talking with a Doctor

When signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s appear, it's important that you get a screening.

A visit to the doctor can feel scary or confusing. It can be especially hard for someone with memory problems. Preparing ahead of time can help you and your loved one. Think about what you want to say and what you want to ask. This will help the doctor understand your loved one’s symptoms. Then, they can give you and your loved one the information you need to know.

A husband and wife enjoy time together outdoors as he covers her shoulders with a shawl

Steps Towards Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Depending on the symptoms affecting you or a loved one, your doctor may use different methods to make a diagnosis. But, the more familiar you become with the methods and steps involved, the less stressful the process is likely to be.

A doctor shows her patient how to access the BrainGuide Memory Questionairre on her cell phone

Ask About Alzheimer’s Screening at Annual Visit

Your yearly doctor’s appointment, physical, or wellness visit is a great time to ask about brain health. Planning ahead gives you a chance to look for changes in your memory over a period of time. This will give your doctor better information about your brain and your memory. Then, they can check out any problems and help you keep your brain healthy.

A couple sits at their kitchen table reviewing resources on what they should expect at an Alzheimer's screening appointment

Exams for an Accurate Screening and Alzheimer’s Diagnosis:

During your doctor’s appointment, you should expect your doctor to complete a series of exams to help evaluate memory and cognitive skills, changes in personality or behaviors, and the potential causes of any symptoms. Your doctor will check your sense of sight and hearing, along with your coordination and balance. This neurological exam is a key element to understanding if another condition may be causing the memory concerns.

Your doctor may also suggest a neuropsychological exam. This exam will reveal cognitive strengths and weaknesses and allow you to discuss if concerns are part of normal aging, a neurological illness, depression, anxiety or other causes.

Complete Blood Count test will count levels of red and white blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets. An unusual increase or decrease in cell counts may call for further evaluation.

What Are The Benefits of an Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis?

Early Alzheimer’s diagnosis can help give you or your loved one more time, which is the most valuable resource of all.

Time will allow you and your loved ones to plan for the future. Recent studies have also shown that making lifestyle changes can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Adopting a healthier diet can help improve brain health. Becoming more socially active can increase your cognitive health and responsiveness and reading more can help increase brain activity.

There are many ways you can learn how to live with Alzheimer’s disease. You can also find local resources for Alzheimer’s patients and caregiver's resources that can be consulted.

Screening, Detection & Diagnosis Resource Center

Take a more in-depth look at how Alzheimer’s is tested and diagnosed with these sources of trusted information.

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