How Accurate And Reliable Are The Results
Like any test, SAGE is not perfect. Scharre points out that individuals have a wide variety of cognitive talents and this needs to be taken into account. There will be individuals who score well but have a decline from their previous abilities. Repeat testing over time will find those that are progressing, he explains.
Some individuals will not score as well, but that may represent their baseline talents, and their score would not suggest any specific brain condition,” he adds. This is why its important to have the test interpreted in light of ones medical history by a healthcare provider.
Its important to note that other factors could be affecting your memory and thinking on any given day.
Perhaps you dont have a memory impairment but are quite depressed, ill, or sleep deprived. explains Jessica Z. K. Caldwell, PhD, director of neuropsychology training and staff neuropsychologist at Cleveland Clinics Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you have concerns about your memory but are also experiencing these symptoms, Dr. Caldwell suggests you see your doctor.
Blood Tests To Check For Other Conditions
Your GP will arrange for blood tests to help exclude other causes of symptoms that can be confused with dementia.
In most cases, these blood tests will check:
- liver function
- haemoglobin A1c
- vitamin B12 and folate levels
If your doctor thinks you may have an infection, they may also ask you to do a urine test or other investigations.
Read more about blood tests.
What To Do If You Think A Loved One Has Alzheimer’s
Have you noticed your mothers memory declining? Do you question your husbands judgment in areas where he has always displayed competence in until recently? Has your sister been behaving strangely lately and falsely accusing you of taking her money?
If youre in that uncomfortable place where you suspect your loved one may have Alzheimers, it can be difficult to know what to do. Its a touchy subject to raise, and one that requires careful thought before doing so.
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Testing For Alzheimer’s Disease
There is no single test for Alzheimers disease. The GP will first need to rule out conditions that can have similar symptoms, such as infections, vitamin and thyroid deficiencies , depression and side effects of medication.
The doctor will also talk to the person, and where possible someone who knows them well, about their medical history and how their symptoms are affecting their life. The GP or a practice nurse may ask the person to do some tests of mental abilities.
The GP may feel able to make a diagnosis of Alzheimers at this stage. If not, they will generally refer the person to a specialist. This could be an old-age psychiatrist often based in a memory service. Or it might be a geriatrician , a neurologist or a general adult psychiatrist in a hospital.
The specialist will assess the persons symptoms, and how they developed, in more detail. In Alzheimers disease there will usually have been a gradual worsening of memory over several months. A family member may be more aware of these changes than the person with suspected Alzheimers is themselves.
The persons memory, thinking and other mental abilities will also be assessed further with a pen-and-paper test. When someone with Alzheimers is tested, they will often forget things quite quickly. They will often not be able to recall them a few minutes later even when prompted.
Who Is This Dementia Quiz For
Below is a list of 9 questions composed for people who are concerned about memory loss. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have symptoms of dementia, currently known as Neurocognitive Disorder , and are based on criteria in the DSM-5.
The following questions encompass the six domains of cognition that are evaluated when assessing symptoms NCD: executive functioning, complex attention, perceptual-motor ability, social interactions, learning/memory-related difficulties, and challenges involving daily activities.
Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Referral To A Dementia Specialist
The specialist that your GP surgery refers you to may depend on your age, symptoms, and the services available in your local area. The consultants you may see are:
- Old age psychiatrists. They specialise in the mental health of older people, and also dementia. They may sometimes also offer support to younger people with dementia.
- General adult psychiatrists. They specialise in diagnosing and treating a wide range of mental health problems, as well as dementia. If you are under 65 years of age, you may be referred to one of these psychiatrists.
- Geriatricians. They specialise in the care of older people, including physical illnesses and disabilities. You may be referred to one of these specialists to see whether your symptoms are due to a condition other than dementia.
- Neurologists. They specialise in diseases of the brain and nervous system. Some neurologists have particular experience in diagnosing dementia. They tend to see younger people and those with less common types of dementia.
The consultant usually works in a specialist team. Although you may not always see the consultant, they are ultimately responsible for your case and will discuss it in detail with the health professional you do see.
Other professionals you may see during your assessment include:
- mental health nurses
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What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment
MCI is a condition characterized by a minor decline in mental abilities. Often these changes are noticeable to the person experiencing them or family members or close friends but they are not severe enough to interfere with normal daily life and activities.
According to the Alzheimers Association, approximately 15 to 20 percent of people age 65 or older have MCI.
People living with MCI are more likely to develop Alzheimers disease or other dementias. According to Mayo Clinic, studies suggest that around 10 to 15 percent of individuals with MCI go on to develop dementia each year.
Symptoms of MCI are often vague but may include the following:
- Memory loss forgetting certain words
- Forgetting important events, like appointments
- Losing your train of thought in conversation, or when reading a book or watching a movie
- Becoming disoriented in familiar surroundings
- Becoming more impulsive or showing poor judgement
MCI does not always lead to dementia. In some individuals MCI reverts to normal cognition and in others the condition stabilizes and they experience no further decline in cognition.
Currently there are no medications for MCI, but establishing an early diagnosis can be important in managing and treating symptoms as they progress.
Medical Tests Used To Diagnose Alzheimers Disease
There is no single Alzheimers test that can determine whether a person has the disease. Currently, Alzheimers disease can only be confirmed after death through examination of brain tissue in an autopsy. Diagnosing Alzheimers and other types of dementia while patients are still alive is not yet an exact science, but doctors do have an arsenal of tests that can narrow down the underlying reason for a patients symptoms, such as memory problems and changes in behavior. However, it is important to keep in mind that these mental and physical tests are conducted to rule out all other possible causes, not to verify the presence of AD.
Clinicians are about 80 percent accurate in determining whether someone has AD, but a lot of cases arent black and white, explains David Morgan, Ph.D., CEO and director of the Byrd Alzheimers Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida.
While this figure may not seem reassuring, it is still crucial for patients to undergo testing as soon as they begin exhibiting symptoms. The results will help physicians provide a diagnosis and appropriate treatment suggestions, which will enable patients and their families to make plans and prepare for the future.
So, when should one seek medical attention for suspected Alzheimers?
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How To Get A Dementia Diagnosis
The dementia diagnosis process can vary for everyone. This page describes the typical steps involved in getting a diagnosis, including what might happen if you are referred to a specialist.
For many people, getting a dementia diagnosis can be quite simple and take just a few weeks. For others it can take much longer sometimes more than a year.
There isnt yet a simple test for dementia, so a diagnosis is normally based on a mixture of different types of assessment.
For most people, the process usually follows these steps:
But the assessment process can vary, and will not be the same for everyone.
Talking to your GP about dementia
What Happens If A Doctor Thinks It’s Alzheimer’s Disease
If a primary care doctor suspects Alzheimers, he or she may refer the patient to a specialist who can provide a detailed diagnosis or further assessment. Specialists include:
- Geriatricians, who manage health care in older adults and know how the body changes as it ages and whether symptoms indicate a serious problem.
- Geriatric psychiatrists, who specialize in the mental and emotional problems of older adults and can assess memory and thinking problems.
- Neurologists, who specialize in abnormalities of the brain and central nervous system and can conduct and review brain scans.
- Neuropsychologists, who can conduct tests of memory and thinking.
Memory clinics and centers, including Alzheimers Disease Research Centers, offer teams of specialists who work together to diagnose the problem. In addition, these specialty clinics or centers often have access to the equipment needed for brain scans and other advanced diagnostic tests.
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When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.
They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:
- a complete series of memory and mental tests
- a neurological exam
- brain imaging tests
If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.
Possible causes of dementia include:
How Mri Is Used To Detect Alzheimer’s Disease
One way to test for Alzheimer’s disease is to assess the brain’s functioning. There are several frequently used cognitive screenings that can be used to evaluate someone’s memory, executive functioning, communication skills, and general cognitive functioning. These tests are commonly done in your healthcare provider’s office widely used is Mini Mental Status Exam or Montreal Cognitive Assessment . These can be very helpful in identifying if a problem exists, or if there’s just a normal lapse in memory.
These can be very helpful in identifying if a problem exists, or if there’s just a normal lapse in memory due to aging. There are, however, several different types of dementia, as well as other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia but are reversible. There are ways you can tell.
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Do I Have Alzheimers 5 Questions To Ask Yourself
Its no secret that youre getting older. Now that the years are adding up on you, you might be making jokes about telltale aging signs, like forgetting things or needing more sleep. To an extent, these small signs are just a normal part of the process. However, if youre noticing a lot of uncharacteristic memory problems or confusion, it might be time to take a step back. You could have Alzheimers disease, and heres how to tell.
The Big Picture
Alzheimers is a progressive, severe form of dementia that takes its toll on the sufferers everyday life. It usually starts with mild memory problems and hampered judgment, maybe forgetting one or two familiar names or misplacing things more regularly.
After a while, however, family members and loved ones start to notice that the uncharacteristic memory lapses arent just forgetfulness. They realize it could be something more serious, and thats when they start looking into Alzheimers.
Depending on how close the loved ones are to the aging person, though, the disease could have already progressed into the later stages. Many times, if people with Alzheimers are just honest with themselves about their confusion and abilities, they can recognize the disease at an earlier stage and combat it to stay more independent for longer.
According to the Alzheimers Association, an estimated 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimers disease. As of right now, its also the 6th leading cause of death in the US.
What Conditions Can Be Mistaken For Dementia
The term dementia refers to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Often, people who experience subtle short-term memory changes, are easily confused, or exhibit different behaviors or personality traits are mistakenly thought to have dementia. These symptoms could be the result of a variety of other conditions or disorders, including other neurocognitive disorders such as Parkinsons disease, brain growths or tumors, mild cognitive impairment , and mood disorders, like depression.
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Alzheimers Behaviors To Track
For each of these behaviors, try to make note of the following:
- Whether theres been a decline or change compared to the way your parent used to be
- Whether this seems to be due to memory and thinking, versus physical limitations such as pain, shortness of breath or physical disabilities
- When you or another person first noticed problems, and what you observed
- What kinds of problems you see your parent having now
If you dont notice a problem in any of the following eight areas, make a note of this. That way youll know you didnt just forget to consider that behavior.
Have you noticed:
How To Know If You Have Alzheimer’s
This Week’s Question:I’ve been forgetting names of people lately and I have this dread that this is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s. How can I tell?
I don’t know a geezer who hasn’t asked this question. Once you hit 60, you begin to wonder if your lost keys have greater significance than they did when you were younger.
The scary truth is that Alzheimer’s begins with difficulty remembering the familiar people, things, events. Or, you start having trouble doing simple arithmetic in your head. These annoyances are common to seniors with healthy brains, so most of us don’t get too worked up over them.
But, as Alzheimer’s progresses, it can make people forget how to brush their teeth or change channels on a TV. And it gets worse until patients require complete care.
So, when should you go to your doctor to discuss your memory lapses?
That’s a personal judgment call. I’ve found that I can’t remember the names of movie stars and ballplayers the way I used to. I attribute this to what I call the “overloaded filing cabinet.” As we get older, we accumulate so many memories that it’s impossible to find the one we want.
I’m not sufficiently worried about my memory difficulties to mention them to my doctor. But if you are worried, get tested.
And then there are those pesky emotions. Feeling sad, lonely, worried, or bored can affect people facing retirement or coping with the death of a loved one. Adapting to change can make you forgetful.
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