There is NO test that can positively diagnose Alzheimer’s or Dementia. It is about ruling out other things that could be going on. When the family doctor checked my mother’s thyroid, it was fine. Thyroids often become “sluggish” in older people, which leads to memory loss, fatigue, and depression.
The first step in diagnosing Alzheimer’s or Dementia should be finding out about family history. In our case, my mother’s two older sisters had it. The second stage would be the SAGE test, a test that a person takes with pen and paper to measure the strength of their cognitive skills. Hopefully, the doctors will also conduct an MRI, which will detect shrinkage in specific regions of the mid-brain attacked by Alzheimer’s disease. A series of blood tests should also be run, which check for conditions other than Alzheimer’s that may cause confused thinking, trouble focusing, or memory problems. Other causes may include anemia, depression, infection, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, certain vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities, and problems with the heart, blood vessels, and lungs.
Additionally, there is a test called a PET scan, a brain imaging test, that can show plaque build up in the brain. During the test, the radioactive drug is injected into the body, where it then attaches to the plaque. The drug highlights the plaque so it can be seen on the scan. If the scan does not show any plaque in the brain, then it is much less likely that you have Alzheimer’s. However, you can have plaque in your brain but not have Alzheimer’s.
Seventeen to 30% of Alzheimer’s patients are misdiagnosed so be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with this disease. Remember appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy and deal with the rest. I love you momma!
Rena McDaniel is the founder of The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver and The Million Mile Blog. She is an Alzheimer caregiver, RA patient, Writer, Wife, Mother, and Grandmother. She now lives in sunny South Carolina with her husband and mother. You can find The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver at alzcaregiver@rm29303, facebook.com/thediaryofanalzheimercaregiver , pinterest.com/rm29303 , plus/google.com/Rena McDaniel
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