Steps for Diagnosing Alzheimers in the Elderly
As we grow older our memory often starts to vanish. Often this is seen as one of the issues of growing old and just accepted as such by both the person’s family and their doctor.
It’s extremely important to receive an in depth exam when suffering from problems in thinking, recollecting, learning or personality changes. Such an exam can tell doctors the precise nature of the problem, the chance of the condition being reversed or treated, the nature and degree of the illness and the areas that the individual can still function successfully. It is critical that doctors check for any other health issues the person could have and whether they require treatment. It is also important to identify whether such treatment may make the psychological issues worse.
The social and mental needs and predicted future changes need to be considered as well as the available resources for the person with the illness, their family, and their caregiver. Though the methodology and procedures may vary between different doctors, an exhaustive analysis of the symptoms should include a medical and neurological exam, consideration of the person’s support system, maintaining as much autonomy as practical, and an appraisal of their remaining capabilities. Analyses can start with the doctor taking an in depth history from a close relative wherever possible. They’ll be asked the ways in which the person has changed, what symptoms they have, and information about other medical conditions. The person will also endure a physical exam to test for other health issues. Thyroid studies should be performed to appraise the function of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is very common in older people and is one of the more common reversible factors behind dementia.
Blood tests to see conditions like anemia, infections, issues with the working of the liver or the kidneys and diabetes also will be performed. Should a physical exam fail to find the reason behind the symptoms, an EEG (electroencephalogram) could also be performed. This involves attaching tiny wires to the head and records the electrical activity in the brain. This may diagnose any unusual brain functioning. CT, MRI, SPECT and PET Scans might also be used as well to identify any changes in the brain like Alzheimer’s disease or strokes. The doctor could also request a neurological exam to discover changes in the working of the nerve cells of the spine or brain.
This exam can involve the person balancing with their eyes shut and checking reflexes in ankles and knees. A psychological exam should additionally be performed. This involves the person being asked about the prevailing time, date and place. The person’s capability to focus, remember, carry out calculations and do abstract reasoning will be put to the test. Each of these tests should show any issues of function in the different parts of the brain. A psychiatric and physiological analysis is based upon interviews with the person and their family. It’s important the patient’s plan of care is established as early as possible. This analysis is also a possibility for the family to evaluate their own physical, financial, and emotional capabilities and is generally performed with the help of a social worker or community nurse.