There is not a single test that can diagnose Alzheimer’s instead doctors may conduct a series of tests to rule out any other conditions that may cause the presenting symptoms before arriving at a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Tests to diagnose Alzheimer’s can include neurological and mental assessments, computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests to evaluate the health of brain cells and checking for any signs of cell death or degeneration. Additional blood tests and tests to evaluate memory, problem, solving, and language skills are conducted to assess the current state of the brain’s functioning. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s but there are drugs available for those in the beginning or moderate stages of Alzheimer’s that can enable them to control cognitive abilities and behavioral changes for some periods of times ranging from years. These drugs act upon the neurotransmitters in the brain to help transmit important messages required for thinking, memory and behavioral functions. Some side effects with these drugs are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other conditions involving the gastrointestinal system.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease so patients will have to be monitored and treatment regiments changed as the disease progresses. Symptoms will change as more brain cells die thus causing new problems to surface and drugs to no longer be effective. Alzheimer’s is a dementia type disease so treatments must also include therapy for behavioral and psychiatric illness such as hallucinations, agitation, sleep problems, and depression. Antidepressants, antipsychotic medicines as well as Vitamin E are frequently included in an Alzheimer’s treatment plan.
Vitamin E has proven an important and effective antioxidant to protect nerve cells from damage. Other therapies that are controversial include hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women because it is believed to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. There is no clear link as to why some people develop Alzheimer’s but there are lifestyle changes recommended to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Doctors advise to remain heart healthy because those with heart disease, a history of stroke, high cholesterol and diabetes are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s. Additionally, older adults should remain physically active by exercising and maintain social connections. Still others suggest engaging in intellectual activity as a way of exercising your mind and memory, may lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or at least slow the degeneration process if Alzheimer’s is to occur.