According to the Spanish Society of Neurology, about between 30 to 40 percent of the cases of Alzheimer’s might be still undiagnosed, an 80 percent of whom have mild Alzheimer’s.
The disease is diagnosed through a complete assessment regarding the trouble the patients may experience with memory loss or learning, and that prevent them from getting on in their lives. Another option is asking their family members and the people who cohabit with them. Blood and urine tests rule out other possible conditions that can cause dementia. In some cases, a sample of spinal cord fluid also needs to be analysed.
It is important that the patients receive some close support from family members or persons around them, since they can minimize their own symptoms just by explaining them. Moreover, it is possible that they don’t tell everything that happens to them due to the memory disorders they suffer from.
Tests and scans
Some of the most employed tests to observe brain changes produced by this disease are the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the positron emission tomography (PET), or a combination of the two. An MRI shows the shape and structure of the brain. A PET can detect the first changes in brain tissues even before visible symptoms — such as memory impairment —appear.
In order to detect whether a person experience a cognitive impairment a screening test is used. It consists of a series of tests through which to determine whether cognitive abilities have been somewhat affected. They are simple, cost-effective tests that offer fast results since they are quickly conducted. Here are some of these tests:
- Eurotest: it consists of the handling of euro coins in order to study the memory or the ability to handle money.
- Minimal Neuropsychological Assessment of Dementia Patients: it consists of seven tests with different purposes.
- Memory Impairment Screen: linked to verbal memory.
- Seven-minute screen: it is a test used to diagnose Alzheimer’s in the first stages and in patients of all ages. It measures temporal orientation, the patient’s ability to remember and learn, speech fluency, and the capacity of drawing.