Once you or your loved one notices symptoms that may be Alzheimer’s, make an appointment with a doctor to discuss these concerns. The diagnosis process usually begins with a family doctor, typically a primary care doctor or general practitioner. They may then refer you or your loved one to other doctors who specialize in memory, brain function, or older adults for more testing and lab work. Keep in mind that it may take multiple appointments and several tests to get a diagnosis, but you can continue to see your primary care doctor throughout the process.
The doctor may seek to understand your or your loved one’s family, medical, and psychiatric history and changes in thinking and behavior. The doctor may also talk with loved ones to discuss changes in the thinking and behavior of the person who is being tested.
A range of tests based on problem-solving, memory, and other brain functions.
Blood and urine samples may be collected to identify whether there are other causes for the symptoms other than Alzheimer’s.
These may include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brain. MRI and CT scans are typically used to rule out other disorders with symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer's. PET scans are used to determine if there are high levels of beta-amyloid in the brain, which would point to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tests and other blood tests may be used to check levels of beta-amyloid and tau proteins. These tests are used to determine the likelihood that the symptoms are due to Alzheimer's.
Learn the difference between dementia, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer's, and how Alzheimer's affects the brain.
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