Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert is brought to you each week by Elayne Forgie and the Alzheimer’ Care Resource Center.
Question: My husband just completed all kinds of tests to see if he has Alzheimer’s disease. What can we expect when we meet with the doctor to get the results?
Answer: The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is made through testing and the process of elimination. In your husband’s case, the doctor has performed quite a number of tests to rule out all other possible causes of his signs and symptoms.
When you meet with the doctor, he will tell you that he has made one of the following determinations:
- Possible Alzheimer’s – The doctor believes Alzheimer’s disease is the primary cause of the signs and symptoms but suspects that another disorder is affecting its progression and obscuring the disease process.
- Probable Alzheimer’s – The doctor has rules out other disorders and concluded that the signs and symptoms are most likely caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
- Some other form of dementia – The doctor believes some other disorder such as vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia or Lewy body dementia, and not Alzheimer’s is the cause of your husband’s signs and symptoms.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease with 100 percent accuracy requires an examination of brain tissue. This is typically done with an autopsy after a person dies. An autopsy of a person with Alzheimer’s usually reveals the characteristic plaques and tangles in the brain. This information is important for research purposes. However, it should be understood that a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s is very accurate, even without an autopsy.
Be sure to ask the doctor to provide you with as much information as possible; and call the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center for additional information, support and guidance at 877-760-9199.