What’s Involved in Diagnosing Alzheimer’s?

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More than 5.6 million seniors over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to rise. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia marked by memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and problems with finishing tasks and caring for oneself. Though there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, getting a proper diagnosis early on may reduce some symptoms. Doctors often use a combination of diagnostic tools to determine if seniors have Alzheimer’s disease.

Physical Exam

Many people mistakenly believe memory loss is a common symptom of growing older, which may cause them to delay taking their senior loved ones for physical examinations. If you notice your loved one has symptoms of memory loss, schedule an appointment with his or her primary care physician as soon as possible. The doctor will be able to perform a physical examination to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. If the doctor suspects a neurological disorder, he or she may refer your loved one to a specialist or order additional tests and lab work.

If your senior loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, help is just a phone call away. For reliable Alzheimer’s care, Fort Myers families can turn to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of professional memory care designed to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life. In addition to Alzheimer’s care, we also provide comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care. From revolutionary care programs to compassionate and dedicated caregivers, we can meet all of your Alzheimer’s care needs.

Lab Work

Your loved one’s doctor will likely order lab work. Two lab tests, known as ADmark Assays, may be especially helpful in diagnosis. The first test measures the amount of tau protein and beta-amyloid in the cerebrospinal fluid. As this test requires a spinal tap, it’s often not recommended because other tests and a thorough exam may yield similar results. The second tests for apolipoprotein E (APOE), a protein associated with Alzheimer’s.

Neurological Tests

Several neurological tests may be ordered to confirm your loved one’s diagnosis. A positron emission tomography (PET) scan may be used to identify amyloid protein plaques. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests may also be ordered to rule out other possible causes for the symptoms—such as a stroke or a brain tumor—and to measure the number and size of the brain cells in the hippocampus. This area typically shrinks due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Fort Myers Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Cognitive Exams

Also known as mental status tests, these tests can give a doctor an idea of the stage of the disease. The Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) and the Mini-Cog test are the most commonly used exams. When the doctor performs an MMSE, he or she will ask your loved one a series of questions designed to test everyday mental skills. The maximum score on an MMSE is 30. A score between 20 and 24 indicates mild dementia. With Alzheimer’s disease, points typically decrease by between two and four points per year. The Mini-Cog test consists of two tasks: remembering the names of three common objects after several minutes and drawing a clock face that accurately depicts number placement. Failure on these tasks is indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.

There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading homecare provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional care for your loved one. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at 239.449.4701.