It can be hard to recognize or admit to possible signs of Alzheimer’s. Often, it’s family or friends who notice signs first. If you or your loved one are experiencing dementia-like symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and intervention improve treatment options and quality of life.
There is no single diagnostic test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. At Banner Health our experienced team of neurologists, neuropsychologists, geriatricians and geriatric psychiatrists use a variety of approaches and tools to help make a diagnosis, monitor progression and develop a care plan.
A physical exam and laboratory tests can help identify the cause of symptoms. Sometimes, dementia-like symptoms are actually other conditions such as depression, sleep apnea, delirium, side effects of medications, thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
Alzheimer's symptoms worsen over time, while the rate at which the disease progresses varies and depends on many factors.
Generally, patients still function independently, including driving, working and socializing. People may begin to notice differences in behavior, memory or concentration. They may have trouble:
Symptoms worsen and patients begin to require a greater level of care and supervision. This is typically the longest stage, sometimes lasting several years. The damage to the brain makes it difficult to express thoughts and perform routine tasks. They may experience symptoms such as:
Symptoms are severe. At this point, patients become unable to respond to their environment, communicate and control movement. Their personality changes significantly. They need extensive help with daily activities. They also lose awareness of their surroundings and physical abilities such as walking, sitting or swallowing.