Many do not know that an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis is a clinical one and that there is no one test for it. The standard way Alzheimer’s/Dementia is diagnosed is by the doctor noting changes in many areas over time and then categorizing the changes as possible, probable or definite Alzheimer’s. The only way for conclusive diagnosis requires a brain biopsy which rarely occurs while a person is alive, so doctors are left with a suggestion that is it Alzheimer-type Dementia.
Moreover, the criteria includes that the doctor rules out everything else that might contribute to the diagnosis which makes it very difficult practically to diagnosis Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer’s Type ( SDAT). Most, if not all seniors will have some vascular narrowing, reduced vascular circulation in legs and likely the brain, related neuropathic findings including wide based gait, mild tremor, and other abnormal or reduced reflexes. Because depression, dysthymia or reduced mood are common in a group of people who are seeing their cognitive, physical and social choices reduced over time that also is a co morbid aspect one needs to consider before making the diagnosis of SDAT. Additionally, while other late onset mental illness labels are less likely, one can also raises those as possible co morbid factors. The focus should be on the best combination of behavior and medication therapy to address the symptoms of any Dementia label.
The best therapy is having a staff or care team that provides continuity of care, has well developed social/interpersonal skills and works as a team to provide the most effective care to a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s as the disease progresses and care needs increase. One should consider including the extended social system of family and friends when providing care/treatment, to improve the behavioral response the patient experiences. Visitors are one of the best therapies for any one with chronic illness including those with Dementia. Dementia is a much more general label and includes difficulty with thoughts, memory, and those issues resulting in physical and cognitive difficulties that affect actives of daily living (ADL’s) and one’s ability to interact with others. Find the most complete team, with the most continuity of care in order to save yourself time and money and get the best care possible.