The absolute diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can only be made at autopsy. However, physicians at specialized centers can diagnose Alzheimer's disease with 90 percent certainty based on clinical information. To make the diagnosis the following may need to be conducted:
- A medical history and neurological exam
- Neuropsychological testing
- Neuropsychological testing involves a careful analysis of a person's memory, problem solving, language, attention, and visuospatial ability.
- Basic blood tests
- Blood tests may be used to help exclude other causes of memory difficulties. For example, a person with a thyroid disorder or a vitamin deficiency may have problems with his or her memory.
- Brain scans
- A brain scan such as an MRI or a CT scan may need to be done in certain patients to detect brain tumors or strokes. These disorders may cause memory problems.
Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to provide a secure environment for the diagnosed person and obtain help for family:
- Obtain a psychiatric evaluation from an individual with experience treating people with dementia. Certain medications can help with behavior problems such as agitation and hostility.
- Share information with family and friends. This will help them better understand the patient's behavior and provide an opportunity for them to offer the diagnosed persona and their family some support and respite.
- Encourage the person to attend an early stage support group. Even if the support group is geared toward the person with early Alzheimer's disease, much information will also be relevant to Frontal Lobe Dementia.
- Meet with an attorney or financial consultant. Make sure Durable Power of Attorney forms have been completed for both health care and finances. Give copies to your doctor. An "elderlaw" attorney who is well-versed in these issues is still an appropriate choice to help you draft these documents or you may obtain the forms at many stationary stores and complete them on your own.
- Attend a caregiver support group. Listening to others who are going through similar experiences can be very comforting. They may also aid you in developing new caregiver techniques and learn about different resources within your community.
- Try to remain physically and mentally healthy. Be sure to get regular health check-ups for both the diagnosed person and family. Exercise and eat nutritious meals. Build in time for things that allow you to rejuvenate.
- Obtain a driving evaluation: Contact your local Alzheimer's Association for the driving evaluation program near you.