There Are Ways To Test For Dementia!

Alzheimers tests may help to identify the early signs or the early onset of the disease. These tests will help in preparing for the future as there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

As we all know, Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. However, there is no specific test that will prove that a patient has the disease. A thorough and careful examination by a doctor can nearly always determine if their patient has a form of dementia. Often they can identify it as Alzheimer's disease.

Keep in mind that the only 100 percent accurate diagnosis of the disease occurs after death, when a microscopic examination of the brain identifies the presence of the characteristic plaques and tangles. New tests and techniques for aiding in the diagnose are imminent.

Alzheimer's Disease or Something Else?

Before a diagnosis for Alzheimer's disease can be made, doctors need to determine if there are other reasons for the depression or memory loss or changes in behavior. There will be questions about medications, dementia in family members, and current or past illnesses.

After a thorough health history is taken  and a medical examination is completed, the doctor may order a number of test such as a CT scan, MRI, EEG and others. The main purpose of these tests is to rule out another disorder such as a brain tumor or a stroke. There are many other health issues that can be related to dementia.

Home Tests - Questions - Psychological Evaluation!

The Alzheimer's Association advises that home tests for the disease should not be substituted for a thorough evaluation by a physician, even though the patient may be displaying many of the obvious signs of dementia. For example, if a person is not aware of the date or day of the week or time of day or where they live, they are suffering from some form of dementia.

There is a test called "mini-cog" that asks a person to complete two tasks. The first part is to tell the person the name of 3 common objects. A few minutes later, he/she is asked to recall the name of the 3 objects. The second part of the test is to ask the person to draw a clock with the numbers in the proper locations. Then ask him/her to draw the hands of the clock to represent a specific time.

Another test is a series of 30 questions. It is the "mini-mental state exam" (MMSE). The questions are designed to test a range of common mental skills. A score of 20 to 24 indicates mild dementia. 13 to 20 is regarded as moderate dementia. Those with severe dementia score less than 12 correct answers.

Neuropsychological testing is another method of studying the relationship between behavior and the brain. Its use is justified when patients are having memory problems, understanding language, difficulty concentrating, or a variety of other symptoms.

CT scan, MRI, EEG, and PET

  • Computerized Tomography (CT scan) uses radiation to create cross-sectional images (slices) of the brain.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses radio waves, a strong magnetic field, and a computer to provide detailed images of internal structures and organs.
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) measures brain function by analyzing the electrical activity of the brain.
  • Positron Emission Tomography Scans (PET) uses injected radiotracers to detect regions of brain activity.

Positron Emission Tomography

These are a few of the many tests available to physicians treating Alzheimer and dementia patients. Some of the tests are very expensive, however, and may not be covered by Medicare and supplemental insurances. Their use may not diagnose Alzheimer's disease, but often eliminate other causes of the dementia.

Psychological Tests and Medications!

There are several promising psychological tests for dementia.

  • Paired-associate learning test
  • Dichotic listening task
  • Visual association test
  • Perceptual identification task

In addition, there are medications that can be used to delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, these medications are only helpful in the early stages of the disease. That is why early diagnosis is important.

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