What To Expect
A full assessment of Alzheimer's disease may need several consultations over a period of time. However, at your initial visit the doctor will likely start by assessing your loved one's overall health by performing a physical examination as well as ordering blood and other tests to determine if the symptoms are due to another condition.
Your doctor will then most probably examine different aspects of thinking and memory using some simple tests, which may include asking the person to remember 3 words (e.g. ‘table, apple, yellow') and recall them a few minutes later or to draw a clock face.
An assessment of your loved one's ability to perform activities of daily living, such as managing personal care (e.g. bathing, dressing and feeding) and other daily activities (e.g. using the telephone, shopping and banking) will also be made using a variety of tools designed especially for memory loss and Alzheimer's disease screening.
If your doctor suspects dementia, to help make a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and determine the severity of the condition, the doctor may then either perform further assessments themselves or refer your loved one to a specialist. To make a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and determine severity, the doctor or specialist may perform a more detailed screening test, called the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale, cognitive sub-scale (ADAS-Cog), to evaluate memory and the ability to think clearly. Designed to help diagnose Alzheimer's disease, the MMSE or ADAS-Cog evaluates a person's cognitive abilities (such as memory, language, orientation in space and time, and concentration). The initial scores will be used as a baseline score to measure how the disease is progressing over time and also to measure how effective treatment has been.