Until recently, it was not possible to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease prior to death, but now there are medical tests that can confirm this condition while the patient is still alive. Dr. Gayatri Devi, board-certified neurologist and author of The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease, suggests first getting a thorough physical examination to rule out other possible causes of the diagnosis. The next step is a cognitive exam to assess all aspects of memory, and then an MRI to see if there are any structural changes within the brain. Doctors are able to confirm an Alzheimer’s diagnosis by looking for deposits with a spinal tap or PET scan provided that there also are cognitive changes and impairment. If you are concerned about loss of memory or cognitive function, pursue your doctor’s recommended tests. Dr. Devi urges everyone over age 60 to have a cognitive evaluation to record the brain’s baseline level of function and as a comparison for future evaluations.
To learn more from Dr. Devi, visit her website or purchase her latest book, The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease.