Monday, August 13, 2012

Alzheimers Diagnosis

A kind of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose. In fact, a confirmed diagnosis of this condition is often only possible after the individual has passed and their brain tissue can be examined. For this reason, healthcare professionals use what is called a differential diagnosis to rule out any other possible health conditions before coming to the conclusion of Alzheimer’s disease.
Pat, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, whose mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, understands that the lack of a single test can make the diagnostic process incredibly stressful—for both elderly loved ones and their families. While there is no fast track to answers about your senior’s condition when it comes to this disease, there are four different factors that can assist doctors in accurately identifying your elderly loved one’s illness. These are:

  1. Physical and neurological examinations
  2. Testing regarding mental status
  3. Thorough medical history
  4. Blood tests, brain imaging, and other testing procedures to rule out possible conditions
Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are commonly experienced with other illnesses, such as depression, thyroid disease, drug interactions, and vitamin deficiencies. For this reason, it is crucial that doctors are able to perform all the tests necessary to rule out these other conditions before making a diagnosis.

Pat knows that a key part of the diagnostic process is trusting in the right healthcare professional. Finding the right doctor, one who is both knowledgeable and experienced, will allow seniors to feel more comfortable with their healthcare team and trust in the expertise of their medical professional. This is important, as the cooperation of your elderly loved one through these tests is essential.
Though primary care physicians can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, they may send your senior to a specialist if they feel as though their case needs more targeted care. Pat’s mother was referred to a neurologist, who specializes in conditions that affect the brain and nervous system. Other specialists who take on Alzheimer’s patients include psychiatrists and psychologists.

Pat understands that the diagnostic process pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease can be long and stressful; however, knowing what condition your elderly loved one is up against, and having the resources necessary to treat it, are well worth the time and effort.

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