Alzheimer’s Dementia Testing

Learn about the different types of tests and examinations used to diagnose Alzheimer's dementia, including medical history, laboratory tests, brain scans, and mental status evaluations. Find tips and information on how to care for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease at every stage of the condition."

Alzheimer’s Dementia Testing
Alzheimer's Dementia Testing

The different types of tests to diagnosis dementia:

Alzheimer’s dementia testing is for just one type of dementia. A comprehensive exam requires:

  • Complete physical
  • Mental status.
  • Various tests are to rule out other conditions. These help to identify the specific type of dementia.

Alzheimer's Test and Dementia Testing

Any type of Alzheimer’s dementia testing in general will vary depending on the symptoms. Diagnosing dementia is no easy matter. There are many variations of the disease.

Medical History

Obtaining the medical history is the first step in diagnosing most forms of dementia. The information provides answers to questions such as… when the symptoms started. Did any other family members have dementia? The doctor will also ask questions to gain an understanding of nutrition and diet. A list of medications is also important.

Laboratory Tests – An Alzheimer's Test

Laboratory tests rule out or confirm other medical conditions. It is important to know what is causing of the memory loss and other dementia-like behaviors.

These tests tend to help identify:

  • Thyroid issues
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Heavy metal poisoning and often include:
  • Blood sugar or glucose to check for diabetes, which can affect memory and behavior.
  • Checking liver and kidney functions. When these organs are not working many health issues…. including dementia or dementia-like symptoms can occur.
  • Blood count tests can help to confirm or rule out anemia.

New Blood For Alzheimer's Disease

Learn More About this Blood Test here

Brain Scan

MRIs, CT scans and other imaging tests on the brain help to identify abnormalities such as… tumors, bleeding or lesions on the brain. This type of Alzheimers test can reveal if a … stroke or series of strokes could be responsible for the dementia.

Another test for dementia… positron emission tomography (PET) uses a tracer to identify areas of the brain that are not functioning properly. This process involves injecting a substance, the tracer, into a vein. Then capturing a 3D image of how the brain is functioning by observing how it breaks down the tracer.

The Single-Photon Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT)

This is another brain scan. It is another procedure used in testing for dementia. In similar fashion to PET, a low-dose radioactive solution is injected into the brain. Then the pattern of blood flow is observed to help the clinician arrive at a diagnosis. PET is very effective at helping to diagnose Alzheimer’s.

Physical Examinations

This type of Alzheimer’s dementia testing rules out conditions such as… heart disease, strokes or other conditions that can lead to some forms of dementia.

Blood and urine tests are useful in helping to treat conditions leading … to dementia or conditions.

During a physical examination, doctors also check:

  • Blood pressure
  • Lungs
  • Heart as poor physical condition can lead to some symptoms of dementia.

Mental Status Tests

These tests check reasoning ability. By seeing how well the patient can solve simple problems. They assess memory and thinking to help arrive at a diagnosis.

This kind of Alzheimer's test, the patient may have to complete…

  • Some basic calculations
  • Memorize a list of words
  • Show that they know the date and time.

The inabilities to do so are signs of dementia. Some of the assessment tools for this type of testing include:

Mini-cog test.

Some exercises may include asking the patient to draw a clock face showing a particular time. Other tests include giving the person three words and asking the patient to repeat the word. If the person is successful, it may be an indication that dementia is not the problem.

Coin counting exercise.

The patient needs to state how much money they. They are given coins of various denominations. They must add them together.

Recall exercises.

Memory problems are a major part of any form of dementia. So intensive memory-tests are important when trying to diagnose the problem.

Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive (ADAS-Cog).

Taking about 30 minutes, this 11-part test is a good gauge for mild dementia. It checks memory and language skills.

Mini Mental Status Exam

Have more questions? Check out the Frequently Asked Question section of the website. You will find a lot of different questions answered directly.

St. Louis University Mental Status Exam

Neurological Examinations

Professionals use these tests to check the patient’s coordination, balance and reflexes. These neurological tests help to identify any problems with the brain. The impulses governing these activities are in the brain. Neurological tests will also help identify other problems such… as a stroke and Parkinson’s disease.

Mood Assessments

Many display behavior and memory problems as a direct result of mood disorders….such as depression. By assessing the patient’s mood… doctors can help identify if these disorders are the cause of the dementia. Prescribing the appropriate medication depends on knowing what is wrong.

Psychiatric Evaluation

In some cases, the aim of dementia testing is to find out if the symptoms are due to a psychiatric condition. Or depression.

The fact is, no single Alzheimers test can identify the disease. But rather a rather a look at various assessments methods are necessary to arrive at a diagnosis. By eliminating some possible causes … the various dementia-testing methods help to narrow down the type it is. And helps in devising a treatment plan. As with many other conditions, early diagnosis leads to better treatment outcomes.

Ruling out other conditions is a part of an overall Alzheimers test. It is necessary as the best course of treatment for dementia can only begin with the right diagnosis. Research, using dementia information, continues to search for other tests to diagnose. as well as to prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

When You Have Concerns and Your Doctor is Not Listening

I have many clients that are given just a Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE) and nothing else done by their primary care physician. They are told they are Ok and nothing further is done. The MMSE requires a baseline. So, one test is not enough.  You will need to follow up with more testing after they obtain a baseline.

I have encourage my clients to take the paper tests and take them to your next appointment. Early diagnosis and treatment can help a person with dementia have a better quality of life longer.  

This is the The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam. SAGE

Finding symptoms early is crucial to treatment

The At Home Paper Test - Sage Test

Here is a link to the SAGE Test

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Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE)? | Caregiver Relief
The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a short test of 30 questions that helps health care practitioners determine the level of cognitive impairment in an individual.