Diagnosis & Treatment

Obtaining a diagnosis can be difficult for the following reasons:

  • Young age and healthy appearance
  • Attributing symptoms to stress
  • Diagnosis of depression or other illness
  • Different diagnosis from various health care professionals

Due to these difficulties, individuals with early onset Alzheimer’s may not necessarily be in the early stages of the disease when they receive the diagnosis.

If you are consistently experiencing any symptoms, schedule a comprehensive medical evaluation with your primary care physician and possibly a neurologist or other specialist.  In preparing for your appointment, make sure you do the following:

  • Write down all symptoms – anything that is noticed to be different or out of the ordinary for the individual
  • Make a list of any illnesses and medications being taken
  • Compile a complete health history before going to the doctor.  There are some great tools to help with this process:
    • “My Medical”  is available as both an iPhone and Android app at www.mymedicalapp.com
    • We have a checklist on our website under “How We Can Help”

Tests that may be conducted in the diagnostic process could include:

  • A physical examination, which could include blood pressure, pulse and nutritional status
  • Laboratory tests, such as blood and urine tests
  • A mental status evaluation that assesses sense of time and place, ability to remember and recall, understand and communicate, and the ability to do simple math problems
  • A series of evaluations that test memory, reasoning, visual-motor coordination, and language skills
  • Brain imaging scan to rule out other causes, such as stroke

Do not allow a physician to dismiss the symptoms as depression, without conducting the tests as mentioned above.  Do not be afraid to seek out other physicians that will pay attention to the symptoms that are being experienced.

As difficult as it can be to receive a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, there are advantages in obtaining the diagnosis as early as possible in the disease process:

  • Time to make choices that maximize quality of life
  • Lessened anxieties about unknown problems
  • Better chance of benefitting from treatment
  • More time to plan for the future

There is not a treatment that cures Alzheimer’s.  There are many prescriptions drugs on the market that can delay symptoms and progression of the disease.  Consult with your treating physician and follow their advice.