Future Directions In Diagnosis Research
Considerable research effort is being put into the development of better tools for accurate and early diagnosis. Research continues to provide new insights that in the future may promote early detection and improved diagnosis of dementia, including:
- Better dementia assessment tests that are suitable for people from diverse educational, social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
- New computerised cognitive assessment tests which can improve the delivery of the test and simplify responses.
- Improved screening tools to allow dementia to be more effectively identified and diagnosed by GPs.
- The development of blood and spinal fluid tests to measure Alzheimers related protein levels and determine the risk of Alzheimers disease.
- The use of sophisticated brain imaging techniques and newly developed dyes to directly view abnormal Alzheimers protein deposits in the brain, yielding specific tests for Alzheimers disease.
What To Expect When You See A Gp About Dementia
A GP will ask about your symptoms and other aspects of your health.
They’ll also ask if you’re finding it difficult to manage everyday activities such as:
- washing and dressing
- cooking and shopping
- paying bills
If possible, someone who knows you well should be with you at your GP appointment, so they can describe any changes or problems they’ve noticed. They could also help you remember what was said at the appointment, if this is difficult for you.
Memory problems do not necessarily mean you have dementia. These problems can have other causes, such as:
- an underactive thyroid
- side effects of some medicines
To help rule out other causes of memory problems, the GP will do a physical examination and may organise tests, such as a blood test and urine test.
You’ll also be asked to do a memory or cognitive test to check any problems with your memory or ability to think clearly.
Read more about the tests used to diagnose dementia.
What Are Some Risk Factors For Alzheimers Disease
Risk factors for the development of Alzheimers disease include:
- Age. Increasing age is the primary risk factor for developing Alzheimers disease.
- Genetics . There is a certain gene, apolipoprotein E that is associated with late-onset Alzheimers disease. Other genes have been associated with early-onset Alzheimers disease.
Researchers believe the presence of the last five risk factors mentioned above might reduce the clearance of amyloid protein from the brain, which then increases the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. In particular, the presence of a number of these risk factors at the same time and while the person is in his or her 50s is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimers disease.
There may be some ways to reduce the risk of mental decline. In general, living a healthy lifestyle protects the body from strokes and heart attacks and is believed to also protect the brain from cognitive decline. Scientists cant absolutely prove the cause and effect of the following factors, but studies have shown a positive association.
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What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
How To Persuade Your Parent To Get Tested
Your parent might be more aware of his or her memory problems than you realize. For example, Mom might be dropping hints that sheâs starting to struggle, but youâve ignored them because you might not want to accept that there could be a problem. If sheâs trying to subtly tell you that everything isnât OK, be supportive of getting things checked out rather than dismissive, says Teepa Snow, a registered occupational therapist and founder of Positive Approach to Care, a training, education and consulting company building a community of care for people living with dementia.
However, if youâre the one seeing signs of trouble and want to initiate a conversation with your parent, Snow suggests starting by asking a more general question. Try something like, âHow do you feel like youâre doing? Is everything as it has been or are there things that arenât the same?â
If your parent doesnât think anything is wrong and that thereâs no need to be tested, Snow recommends trying one of these approaches.
Reach out to a third party: Ask your parentâs primary care provider or even one of your parentâs friends to suggest that he or she get tested for dementia. Your parent might be more open to the suggestion if it comes from a professional or peer than from you, the child.
Let your parent know that youâre worried about her well-being and that youâre asking her to get checked out by a doctor as a favor to you.
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What Are The Benefits Of An Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
Early, accurate diagnosis is beneficial for several reasons. Beginning treatment early in the disease process may help preserve daily functioning for some time, even though the underlying Alzheimers process cannot be stopped or reversed.
Having an early diagnosis helps people with Alzheimers and their families:
How Is It Treated
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But there are medicines that may slow symptoms down for a while and make the disease easier to live with. These medicines may not work for everyone or have a big effect. But most experts think they are worth a try.
As the disease gets worse, you may get or angry and upset. The doctor may also prescribe medicines to help with these problems.
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How To Diagnose Alzheimers Vs Dementia
Alzheimers is a progressive and fatal brain disorder. Dementia is not a specific disease, but an umbrella term that defines a syndrome and used to refer to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Alzheimers is one of the most common causes of dementia. Both Alzheimers and dementia are diagnosed using a variety of different assessments and tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, cognitive and neuropsychological tests, and an analysis of changes in behavior.
How Dementia Is Diagnosed
There is no single test for dementia, and it can be difficult to diagnose the specific type of dementia that a person has. If you want to find out if your parent has dementia or, specifically, Alzheimerâs disease, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your parentâs family care provider.
The primary care provider can do a screening that can help rule out whether your parentâs memory issues are being caused by any treatable conditions. Then, the doctor can refer your parent to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist for additional screening and tests. Snow suggests talking to the providers your parentâs doctor recommends as well as other providers in the same field to find the best fit for your parent. The Alzheimerâs Association has a guide to choosing a doctor to evaluate memory problems.
If the process is rushed and the provider misdiagnosis your parent, you might not be able to persuade your parent to be tested again. âYouâll get one shot at this,â Snow says. âDonât blow it.â
You want someone who is willing to do a thorough assessment and has experience diagnosing a variety of dementia-related diseases. A thorough exam typically will involve the following:
Why Take A Test For Dementia
It is crucial that the symptoms of memory loss are diagnosed as early as possible. This helps to get the best treatment possible. A do at home dementia test can help a person come to terms with the fact that they may be suffering from dementia.
By taking a simple do at home dementia test you should be able to determine if the person may have a problem with their memory. If they show signs if difficut during the test you should encourage them to seek further help fro their GP. There Doctor can then check for problems such as early stages of Alzheimers disease or dementia.
Simple Blood Test May Be Able To Diagnose Alzheimers Disease
A simple blood test may soon be able to diagnose patients with two common forms of dementia Alzheimers disease and frontotemporal dementia and tell the two apart.
Researchers at UC San Francisco analyzed the blood test in more than 300 patients and say they hope to see such a test available in doctors offices within five years.
This test could eventually be deployed in a primary care setting for people with memory concerns to identify who should be referred to specialized centers to participate in clinical trials or to be treated with new Alzheimers therapies, once they are approved, said Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, neurologist at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and senior author of the study published in Nature Medicine. Boxer also is affiliated with the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.
No blood test currently exists for either condition. Alzheimers diagnoses can only be confirmed by a PET scan of the brain, which can be costly, or an invasive lumbar puncture to test cerebrospinal fluid.
If approved, the new blood test could ease screening and help increase the number of patients eligible for clinical trials, which are essential to the search for drugs to stop or slow dementia. Patients who know whether they have Alzheimers or FTD are also better able to manage their symptoms, which may differ between the two conditions.
Adam Boxer, MD, PhD
Some Of The Commonly Used Cognitive Tests Include:
Mini-Mental Status Examination
This test is usually conducted by your doctor or specialist in their office and takes around 5 minutes to complete. The MMSE is the most common test for the screening of dementia. It assesses skills such as reading, writing, orientation and short-term memory.
Alzheimers Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive
This 11-part test is more thorough than the MMSE and can be used for people with mild symptoms.
It is considered the best brief examination for memory and language skills.
It takes around 30 minutes and is usually conducted by a specialist in their office, or you may be referred to a psychologist for the test.
This involves a number of very sensitive tests administered by a neuropsychologist .
A typical testing session will take at least 2 hours and may be conducted over more than one visit.
A variety of tests will be used and may include tests of memory such as recall of a paragraph, tests of the ability to copy drawings or figures and tests of reasoning and comprehension.
Standard X-rays may be taken and those who smoke will commonly require a chest X-ray to rule out lung cancer, which may be causing a secondary brain tumour. \
Brain imaging techniques
Various brain-imaging techniques are sometimes used to show brain changes and to rule out other conditions such as tumour, infarcts and hydrocephalus these include:
Take The Sage Test At Home
Anyone can take the SAGE test anytime. Its free and you can get it here on the Ohio State University website.
Print the test and take it with a pen or pencil. Theres no time limit, but most people finish in about 15 minutes.
Sample questions from the test:
- How many nickels are in 60 cents?
- You are buying $13.45 of groceries. How much change would you receive back from a $20 bill?
- Write down the names of 12 different animals.
- Draw a large face of a clock and place in the numbers.Position the hands for 10 minutes after 11 oclock. On your clock, label L for the long hand and S for the short hand.
What Are Next Steps After Taking It
After you complete the test you should take it to your healthcare provider, who can score the test very quickly, even within seconds, and give you immediate feedback.
According to Scharre your doctor may be able to glean that a specific part of your brain is not working as well as other parts depending on how you answer specific questions. That may help them in their diagnostic considerations,” he explains.
Depending on your test results, your primary care physician may schedule additional neurological tests or brain imaging magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography scans to rule out other conditions that may be impairing your thinking or memory, such as stroke, Parkinsons disease, brain tumor, or other illnesses, like hypothyroidism.
Medicines For Behavior Problems
may be tried to treat anxiety, agitated or hostile behavior, sleep problems, frightening or disruptive false beliefs , suspicion of others , or hallucinations .
Before deciding to use medicine for behavior problems, try to see what is causing the behavior. If you know the cause, you may be able to find better ways of dealing with that behavior. You may be able to avoid treatment with medicine and the side effects and costs that come with it.
Medicines generally are used only for behavior problems when other treatments have failed. They may be needed if:
- A behavior is severely disruptive or harmful to the person or to others.
- Efforts to manage or reduce disruptive behavior by making changes in the person’s environment or routines have failed.
- The behavior is making the situation intolerable for the caregiver.
- The person has trouble telling the difference between what is and is not real . Psychosis means the person has false beliefs or hears or sees things that aren’t there .
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How Can You Help Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease
If you are or will be taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, start learning what you can expect. This can help you make the most of the person’s abilities as they change. And it can help you deal with new problems as they arise.
Work with your loved one to make decisions about the future before the disease gets worse. It’s important to write a and a .
Your loved one will need more and more care as the disease gets worse. You may be able to give this care at home. Or you may want to think about using assisted living or a nursing home.
Ask your doctor about local resources such as support groups or other groups that can help as you care for your loved one. You can also search the Internet for online support groups. Help is available.
How Does A Doctor Test For Dementia
There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimers disease and other causes of dementia. Dementias are diagnosed by evaluating and understanding a persons memory and thinking patterns. Doctors will consider a persons memory, grasp of language, mood states, problem-solving skills, ability to maintain focus and perform complex tasks. Evaluation may include in-office cognitive screening , physical examination, and review of labs. Labwork helps to determine whether there are vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes at play. In some cases, evaluation may require neuropsychological testing, brain imaging , and genetic testing.
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What Increases Your Risk
Certain things make getting a disease more likely. These are called risk factors. Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Getting older. This is the main risk factor. People rarely have dementia before age 60.
- A family history of Alzheimer’s disease, especially if one or more of your parents or siblings has the disease.
- The presence of the gene.
- Having Down syndrome.
- Injuries to the brain, especially more than one injury that caused you to pass out
Memory Tests Doctors Use For Dementia
The idea that your memory might be slipping is a scary one indeed. Its not always accurate, however, and there are memory tests that doctors can use to test whether its actually happening or not.
A certain amount of forgetfulness is normal as we grow older. We may forget someones name or fail to pay a bill. Such memory lapses are mild and usually a normal part of aging. We have all had instances of losing track of our keys and not remembering the name of the movie we saw last month.
For me, Ive always been great with peoples faces, but their names, or even worse dates forget about it .
There are, however, more serious signs that our short-term memory is failing and that we need to discuss the situation with a doctor. How do we tell the difference?
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What Is The Clock Test For Dementia
The clock test is a non-verbal screening tool that may be used as part of the assessment for dementia, Alzheimers, and other neurological problems. The clock test screens for cognitive impairment. The individual being screened is asked to draw a clock with the hour and minute hands pointing to a specific time. Research has shown that six potential errors in the clock testthe wrong time, no hands, missing numbers, number substitutions, repetition, and refusalcould be indicative of dementia.
How Does The Sage Test Work
SAGE evaluates your thinking abilities by asking you questions related to language, reasoning, problem-solving, and memory.
Scharre explains that the questions cover a wide range of cognitive domains, especially those abilities that are early predictors of mild cognitive impairment.
SAGE measures cognitive function by assessing the following areas:
- How many nickels are in 60 cents?
- Write down the names of 12 different animals
In addition to the scored items on the test, SAGE asks questions about your medical history, such as “Have you suffered a stroke?” The test asks if youve had a family history of cognitive impairment. Youre also asked about any current symptoms you may be having, such as problems with memory, balance, or if you’ve experienced any personality changes. These answers can help your clinician identify possible causes of cognitive decline.
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