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How Alzheimer's Disease Is Diagnosed

    The diagnosis of alzheimer's disease is best made by a trained medical professional. The first person to make the diagnosis of alzheimer's is usually the family doctor. Primary care physicians may refer patients with suspected alzheimer's disease to specialists at a major Alzheimer's Disease Center, to confirm an initial alzheimer's diagnosis. The family care physician can also order blood tests and other laboratory tests as needed to diagnose and rule out other causes dementia like symptoms. There are more than 100 causes of dementia symptoms, so problems with memory or thought are not always due to Alzheimer's disease. Some dementias are reversible, such as dementia symptoms caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency. The family doctor will begin the diagnosis of alzheimer's or other dementia by asking the patient and family important questions about memory and thinking.The family care provider adds to the diagnosis by reviewing medicines that the patient takes and asking about diet, smoking, and alcohol use by the patient. Once a general health assessment is made, other tests to diagnose alzheimer's disease may be given. The family care provider may ask the patient the time, the day, the year, and other questions to assess thinking ability- all an important part of diagnosis. Specialized tests such as mthe Mini Mental State Exam and a Clock Drawing Test may be given to further establish an alzheimer's diagnosis. Thus, the initial phase of an alzheimer's diagnosis is gathering a great deal of information about the patient and their family. Once the gathering of information is completed, a referral to a specialist in alzheimer diagnosis may be made, and the specialist may diagnose the alzheimer's disease as possible, probable or definite. Each diagnosis is made by using highly specific criteria and information.