Open Your Eyes and Protect Your Elders: 7 Tests For Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia That You Should Not Miss

ID-10015904Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease happen to top the list of the most common causes of death in elders. Due to the violent symptoms that are inherently connected to these diseases, without specialized help they can easily become dangerous for both patients and their families. However, provided they are detected in early stages, the rapid evolution of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced to a fairly moderate pace.

Unfortunately, there is no specific test which can predict accurately that you suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. However, doctors can conduct a series of tests and based on the results obtained and further observation, dementia can be ultimately diagnosed. Follow-up tests will investigate whether it is caused by Alzheimer’s disease or not. In order to protect your elders or if you suspect that the elder members of your family might suffer from one of these conditions, do not hesitate any second and ask for help.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease can be confirmed only after the patient passes away and his brain is analyzed. In order to see if the patient suffers from dementia or from other diseases/conditions/causes of memory loss, doctors will order at least one of the following tests.

  1. Physical and neurological exam

During this test, the specialist will perform a physical examination of the patient, looking for signs of the disease. In addition to that, he will also verify the patient’s neurological health by checking his general reflexes, muscle condition (strength, tone etc.), ability to stand up and walk, sense of sight, sense of hearing, ability to coordinate his movements and balance.

2. Lab tests

Usually, these tests are useful in excluding some potential causes of memory loss and confusion that can occur with seniors. Among the most common causes that have been identified during thorough lab tests to result in memory loss and confusion are thyroid disorders, vitamin deficiencies and internal bleedings.

3. Mental status testing

One of the most important tests in diagnosing dementia, mental status examination is specifically designed to rate the patient’s memory, but also to assess other different thinking abilities. Depending on the complexity of the situation and the methods used in testing, mental status testing can take from 10 minutes to about an hour.

4. Neuropsychological testing

Sometimes, mental status testing is not sufficient for an accurate diagnostic. In these situations, the doctor will do a neuropsychological test. Despite that fact that this test can take several hours, the advantages are considerable. During this longer period of time, the doctor will do a more detailed investigation of the mental functions.

Brain imaging

Confusion and memory loss can be determined by strokes, trauma or tumors and all of these can be easily identified using a simple brain image. By investigating the brain, the specialist can rule out some of these conditions. This is the reason why brain imaging is so important in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosing.

Depending on the situation (lab’s equipment, suspected condition, patient’s health status), brain imaging can be made in several different ways:

5. Computerized tomography (CT)

During a computerized tomography, the patient lies on a specially-designed table that slides into a special tube where the brain is X-ray scanned from different angles, resulting in different images that present various brain sections. Thanks to its accuracy, CT is useful in identifying tumors, strokes and trauma, conditions that have symptoms similar to dementia.

6. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Similar to computerized tomography, during magnetic resonance imaging the patient lies on a special-designed table that slides into a special tube. Here comes the difference: now the patient is being “bombarded” with radio waves and a strong magnetic field. By doing this, the computer produces several different images of the patient’s brain. Thanks to its accuracy, CT is useful in identifying conditions that may account for cognitive symptoms and ultimately rule them out.

7. Positron emission tomography (PET)

The main difference between CT or MRI and PET is that during a positron emission tomography the patient is injected in one of his veins with a low-level radioactive tracer (a special form of glucose). Then his brain is scanned in order to identify the regions that aren’t functioning normally.

This was a guest post by Sebastian Grandison who is a medical tests specialist for MedSipo where he ensures that all test results are correctly interpreted. When he isn’t busy at work, he enjoys trekking, cooking, traveling, and reading about the latest medical breakthroughs.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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