Understanding the diagnosis

Once testing is completed, the diagnosing physician or other members of the diagnostic team will review the results of the examinations, laboratory tests and other consultations to arrive at a diagnosis. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s usually falls into one of the following categories:

Probable Alzheimer’s indicates that the physician has ruled out all other disorders that may be causing dementia and has come to the conclusion that symptoms are most likely the result of Alzheimer’s disease.

Possible Alzheimer’s means that Alzheimer’s disease is probably the primary cause of dementia but that another disorder may be affecting the progression of symptoms.

It is important that you discuss the diagnosis with your physician. Some questions to ask:

  • What does the diagnosis mean?
  • Are additional tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What changes in behavior or mental capacity can be expected over time?
  • What care will be needed, and what treatment is available?
  • What else can be done to alleviate symptoms?
  • Are there clinical trials being conducted in my area?

Understanding the diagnostic process, the length of time it takes, the procedures involved, and the newest technologies, can be daunting. Some of the diagnostic centers have support groups or counselors and social workers who can be helpful with the complexities of the diagnostic work-up as well as the complexities of filling in the insurance form to pay for the work-up.