Screening and Diagnosing Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Blog Category: Health

We all have momentary episodes of forgetfulness, but as we get older, it can become a concern. For seniors, this can be a sign of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or related dementia. If you have concerns, it’s important to talk to your doctor about memory loss and screen for Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Talk to Your Doctor About Memory Loss

Not all memory problems are permanent, degenerative, or even abnormal, but the earlier it is detected, the more time there is to determine the level of severity and develop a treatment plan. If you are experiencing forgetful episodes, you need to visit your doctor to distinguish forgetfulness from memory problems and identify Alzheimer’s disease with early screenings.

It’s time to make an appointment with your doctor if you or your loved one have experienced any of the following:

  • Difficulty communicating or finding the right words or mixing up unrelated words. 
  • Getting lost in familiar areas.
  • Difficulty performing or taking significantly longer to complete regular daily tasks.
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly.
  • Putting items in places where they do not belong.
  • Difficulty recognizing or remembering the names of close friends and family.
  • Increased anxiety, depression, or aggression.
  • Difficulties in planning or problem-solving.

Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, you can be active during the conversation by asking questions like: 

  • Are my symptoms consistent with normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, or dementia?
  • What is causing my condition, and is it curable or able to be prevented?
  • What other medical conditions could be making my symptoms worse?
  • Are there medications that I should avoid or try?
  • What tests do you plan on performing, and what do they require you to do?
  • In what timeframe should these tests occur?
  • How long will it take for you to receive your results?

Screening for Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

There is no single test that can identify Alzheimer’s disease. Diagnosing the condition is a process of eliminating other potential reasons for increased confusion or forgetfulness, including vitamin deficiencies and reactions to medications. There are a few common screenings to help determine if cognitive decline is present:

  • Alzheimer’s Clock Test is considered the simplest to use during early cognitive assessments. In this test the doctor will ask the patient to draw a clock, including the numbers. They will then ask patients to draw the hands corresponding to different times.
  • Mini Cog Test is a memory screening test in two parts. It requires a recall exam for memory and a clock drawing test. While the results are not definitive, the tool can assist doctors in identifying cognitive problems.
  • Confidential Screening Sites were developed by Alzheimer’s Foundation of America for you to receive free, confidential tests.
  • At-Home Testing, like the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE), takes roughly 15 minutes to complete and detects early signs of memory loss or abstract thought impairments.

After a Diagnosis

If your doctor concludes you or your loved one have a form of dementia, you’ll want to meet with them and ask about next steps:

  • What new symptoms should I expect?
  • What will life be like later in the disease? How can I prepare for it?
  • Are there lifestyle changes or supportive therapies that could help?
  • Who should be on our care team?
  • What are helpful communication practices?
  • What safety measures should I take, such as driving and being alone?
  • What caregiver support services, community programs, and resources are there?
  • What will my insurance cover?

Learn more about your options for memory care with individualized resources based on your needs through our 5-minute survey powered by Roobrik here.

At Life Enriching Communities (LEC), we’re committed to ensuring patrons feel well-equipped to plan their future and age how they wish. Explore more resources on senior living or contact us today to learn more about our legacy of services and programs that bring meaning and purpose to every stage of life.