Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease


The only definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease is through a brain autopsy after death. However, doctors have methods to determine if someone has Alzheimer’s Disease with reasonable accuracy.

To diagnose Alzheimer’s doctors may:
• Perform a comprehensive medical history including asking about symptoms and activities of daily living
• Conduct a thorough physical assessment including a neurological assessment and may perform other diagnostic testing, such as blood tests and urine samples, to rule out possible other causes of symptoms
• Perform brain scan, such as a CT scan (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or a PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography) to distinguish possible other symptoms/causes from Alzheimer’s.

Your primary care physician may recommend you see a specialist who can provide detailed diagnosis. The following is a list of specialists your physician may refer you to:
• Geriatrician manages healthcare in older adults and understands how the body changes as it ages and whether symptoms indicate a serious problem.
• Geriatric psychiatrist specializes in mental and emotional problems of older adults and can assess memory and thinking problems.
• Neurologists specialize in abnormalities of the brain and the central nervous system
• Neuropsychologists can conduct and assess tests of memory and thinking.

For additional information related to Alzheimer’s disease go to the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org