Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder responsible for 50 to 70 percent of all dementia cases. It is progressive and always ends in death. Diagnostic criteria includes both cognitive and psychiatric testing.
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One of the early indicators that suggests the possibility of Alzheimer's is slight memory loss. Indicators may include repetition, forgetting appointments and misplacing things frequently.
Since Alzheimer's can only be diagnosed accurately by examining the brain on autopsy, tests for early Alzheimer's more often involve those to rule out other causes for dementia. According to Mayo Clinic, lab tests may be done to check for abnormal thyroid activity or lack of vitamins.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, mental status tests are used as a means to assess mental function. This test, known as the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), asks the patient such questions as to remember objects and recall, count backward, identify specific locations and name familiar objects. This is graded to determine the amount of dementia present on a yearly basis.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America recommends checking with a health care professional when signs such as poor decision-making, mood changes, confusion and difficulty completing sentences become apparent.
Alzheimer's disease is not a part of the normal aging process. Many diseases that are treatable can manifest similar symptoms. Only a professional can perform the tests that will rule out treatable diseases and begin supportive care in the case of Alzheimer's.
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