Many people are not aware of the fact that Alzheimer’s disease does not show up on some type of blood test or MRI. As a matter of fact, testing for Alzheimer’s disease usually involves only physical tests that are meant to rule out other causes for a patient’s symptoms, such as Parkinson’s disease, a stroke or a brain tumor. The remainder of any testing for Alzheimer’s disease is usually just a series of psychological tests meant to measure a person’s mental abilities and faculties.
Physical Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease
Some patients may get an MRI or PET scan to rule out the possibility of brain injury, and of course blood is almost always taken for any medical test to see about chemical imbalances, hormone imbalances, cancers, and things such as these. But for the most part, testing for Alzheimer’s disease involves a series of probing questions that will enable the doctor to assess a patient’s mental state.
Cognitive Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease
Since Alzheimer’s is a disease of the mind that mostly affects memory and one’s problem-solving abilities, doctors find it useful to question a patient in order to assess his or her mental state.
The patient may be asked about what day of the week it is, the month and date. They may be asked the name of the current President of the United States. They may be asked if they know where they are and what they are doing there. This will tell the physician their level of awareness of their surroundings.
Testing for Alzheimer’s disease also includes assessing a patient’s memory. They will be asked about their personal history, when they were married, how many children they have, the names of their spouse and children, and so on. An inability to recall such information is a very strong indicator for Alzheimer’s.
There may be other simple questions or problems presented as part of testing for Alzheimer’s disease. For example, the patient may be requested to spell a short word backwards, or to do a simple math equation in their head.
All of these questions are considered in conjunction with any other symptoms that are reported to the doctor, such as changes in mood or behavior, increased irritability, paranoid thoughts or actions such as accusing persons of stealing, and things such as these. When bringing in a loved one for testing for Alzheimer’s disease, be prepared to talk to the doctor openly and honestly about such circumstances so that the correct diagnosis can be reached.