If your aging loved one exhibits memory problems or dementia, you may want to learn how to diagnose Alzheimer's. Not all memory issues found in aging individuals are Alzheimer's and it is believed that Alzheimer's only truly affects about ten percent of the population. Only a medical doctor can correctly diagnose Alzheimer's legally, so if you suspect something wrong, it would be best to bring your loved one to a medical physician.
The following criteria are necessary for a diagnosis of Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type:
- The development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both: (1) memory impairment and (2) one (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances: (a) aphasia (b) apraxia (c) agnosia (d) disturbance in executive functioning
- The cognitive deficits in the above criteria must cause significant impairment in social and occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.
- The course is characterized by gradual onset and continuing cognitive decline.
- The cognitive deficits listed above are not due to any of the following: (1) other central nervous system conditions that cause progressive deficits in memory and cognition, (2) systematic conditions that are known to cause dementia, (3) substance-induced conditions
- The deficits do not occur exclusively during the course of a delirium.
- The disturbance is not better accounted for by another Axis I disorder (e.g. Major Depression, Schizophrenia).
- There are also codes that help specify the type of symptoms with the dementia, such as "without behavioral disturbance" if the problems are primarily cognitive in nature, or "with behavioral disturbance" if the cognitive symptoms are accompanied by a clinically significant behavioral disturbance such as wandering.
Additionally, "with early onset" is for patients with symptoms diagnosable of Alzheimer's before age 65, and "with late onset" is for those who are diagnosed with onset after age 65.