- Clinicians can now diagnose Alzheimer's disease with up to 90 percent accuracy. But it can only be confirmed by an autopsy, during which pathologists look for the disease's characteristic plaques and tangles in brain tissue.
- Clinicians can diagnose "probable" Alzheimer's disease by taking a complete medical history and conducting lab tests, a physical exam, brain scans and neuro-psychological tests that gauge memory, attention, language skills and problem-solving abilities.
- Proper diagnosis is critical since there are dozens of other causes of memory problems. Some memory problems can be readily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. Other memory problems might result from causes that are not currently reversible, such as Alzheimer's disease.
- The sooner an accurate diagnosis of "probable" Alzheimer's disease is made, the easier it is to manage symptoms and plan for the future.
Click here to gain insight into the new diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease released in April 2011, as discussed by Marie A. Bernard, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute on Aging and one of the experts who helped develop the criteria.
Click here to learn more about community memory screenings, including those provided during AFA’s National Memory Screening Day each November and Community Memory Screenings year-round. Results of screenings during these initiatives do not represent a diagnosis, but can indicate whether someone should pursue a full medical examination.
For more information, connect with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s licensed social workers. Click here or call 866.AFA.8484. Real People. Real Care.