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Alzheimer’s or Something Else: What is Involved in a Diagnosis?

Alzheimer’s Care in Fairfield, CT – A Quick Summary of the Steps Leading to a Determination of Alzheimer’s or Something Else Affecting Your Loved One

If you’ve noticed your elderly parent has started to be a little more forgetful than before, or there’s a strange behavior now and then that just doesn’t seem to be like them, you may be wondering about Alzheimer’s. It’s always a good idea to go get a doctor’s opinion sooner than later, because often the symptoms of other medical issues can look like Alzheimer’s.

Currently, there is no definitive test or medical/clinical procedure that can detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Like many diseases, Alzheimer’s can be considered through a diagnosis using exclusion. The many other diagnoses of dementia must be first eliminated through evaluations and tests before a clinical diagnosis for Alzheimer’s can be declared.

There are several ways a doctor can make a diagnosis:

  • Obtaining a detailed medical history
  • By conducting a physical and neurological examination
  • Testing the person’s intellectual functioning (also called a mental status exam)
  • Ordering a number of different laboratory tests and probably an imaging procedure

Why do evaluations need to be done?

Sometimes, treatable forms of dementia are discovered that look very similar to Alzheimer’s. For example, a simple laboratory test cannot single-handedly determine if someone has Alzheimer’s Disease, but laboratory tests could show that a particular patient has a thyroid problem or something very similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s without actually having it. If this is the case with your elderly loved one, the doctor could then start the course of treatment that would alleviate or even eliminate the symptoms.

Imaging tests play a key role in diagnosing patients and let doctors physically see what could be affecting a person’s brain or internal organs. Imaging tests are helpful because there is little to no risk for the patient, and they are less invasive than surgery.

There are 4 major medical tests using diagnostic imaging that currently help doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s.

They are:

  • Computerized tomography (often referred to as a CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET scans use a “tracer,” ingested as a liquid or inserted through an IV to track blood flow and the function of organs)
  • Single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT scans show 3-D images of vital organs and other important parts of the body so physicians can see if they’re functioning normally)

Unfortunately, none of the above medical tests can provide an exclusive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Each technique is more importantly used to rule out other causes of dementia. An MRI scan can reveal that the cause of dementia is actually because of a blood clot.

Additionally, genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease is extremely limited. Doctors can never definitively say someone has Alzheimer’s. Instead, almost all diagnosis are probable and rely on several different tests to rule out any other causes.

When you have an elderly loved one that has been given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, there is help available to care for them. Alzheimer’s home care and have an experienced caregiver take care of your parent in the familiar surroundings of their own home.

If you or an aging loved one are considering Alzheimer’s home care in Fairfield, CT or the surrounding areas, please contact SYNERGY HomeCare of Fairfield, CT at (203) 304-7303.

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Jay Kiley

Jay Kiley has spent over well over 30 years providing world class customer service to clients around the world. Whether it was during his career in banking as asenior officer with Fortune 500 companies or working with some of the wealthiest people in the world with the Superyacht Rigging Company he owned with his brother; customer service was and is first and foremost.

As the Regional Developer of SYNERGY HomeCare in Connecticut for the past several years Kiley again puts the customer’s needs first. Working with the four five SYNERGY HomeCare Connecticut offices, Danbury, Bristol, Stamford, East Haven and Fairfield, which he owns with his wife of 34 years,Laurie, he has lead the SYNERGY CareTeam to tremendous growth and continued success. Knowing first hand how health, aging and memory care issues can take a toll on a family, he is a very hands-on owner. He makes his cell phone available to all clients and their families providing more than just care, Kiley provides solutions to his client’s care needs and peace of mind to their family.

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