Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is important. It means you can get the right support and treatments. It also means you can plan for the future. If you are worried about your health, you should talk to your doctor.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is important. It means you can get the right support and treatments. It also means you can plan for the future. If you are worried about your memory or health, you should talk to your doctor.
If your doctor suspects Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, they may refer you to a memory clinic or another specialist clinic. Here, a doctor or nurse will run through some questions and tests with you. These are likely to include:
- Questions about your concerns, your symptoms and how they affect you day to day.
- Questions about your general health and medical history.
- Speaking with your partner or someone close to you about your symptoms.
- A physical check-up.
- Completing some pen-and-paper tasks to check your memory, thinking and problem-solving skills.
You may be offered other tests, including brain scans and blood tests. Occasionally a lumbar puncture is used, where a sample of fluid is taken from the base of the spine. This tests for abnormal levels of the proteins, amyloid and tau, linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Together, all of these things will help a doctor find out about any problems in memory or thinking and the likely cause.
Currently there is no way to diagnose any type of dementia with 100% accuracy. Your doctor will make a clinical judgement about the most likely diagnosis to explain your symptoms based on the information they collect from these assessments and tests.
If symptoms are mild or the cause is uncertain, the doctor may want to test for any further changes over time. For this reason, they may repeat these assessments in the future to see if symptoms have got worse, to help them make a more accurate diagnosis.
If you are assessed for the possibility of having Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you can choose not to know the diagnosis. You can also choose who else can know about your diagnosis.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Find out more about the symptoms and causes of Alzheimer's disease, and the treatments currently available.
Order health information
Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.
This information was updated in June 2020 and is due for review in June 2022. It does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.
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