f you are concerned about your own health, or the health of someone close to you, it is important to seek help from a GP. An early diagnosis will have a number of benefits including the opportunity to plan for the future and access treatment, advice and support.
There is no straightforward test for Alzheimer's disease or for any other cause of dementia. A diagnosis is usually made by excluding other causes which present similar symptoms. The GP will need to rule out conditions such as infections, vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, depression and the side-effects of medication. Specialists
The GP may ask a specialist for help in carrying out a diagnosis. The specialist may be an old-age psychiatrist, a neurologist, a physician in geriatric medicine or a general psychiatrist. Who the person sees will depend on their age, how physically able they are and how well services are developed in the local area. Tests
The person being tested will usually be given a blood test and a full physical examination to rule out or identify any other medical problems. The person's memory will be assessed, initially with questions about recent events and past memories. Their memory and thinking skills may also be assessed in detail by a psychologist. A brain scan may be carried out to give some clues about the changes taking place in the person's brain. There are a number of different types of scan, including computerised tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Treatment
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease. However, drug treatments are available that can temporarily alleviate some symptoms or slow down their progression in some people.
People with Alzheimer's have been shown to have a shortage of the chemical acetylcholine in their brains. The drugs Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl (trade names for the drugs donepezil hydrochloride, rivastigmine and galantamine) work by maintaining existing supplies of acetylcholine. As of March 2011, these drugs are recommended as an option for people in the mild-to-moderate stages of Alzheimer's disease. Please refer to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) website for guidance (see Useful organisations at the end of this factsheet). Side-effects are usually minor but may include diarrhoea, nausea, insomnia, fatigue and loss of appetite.
A drug called Ebixa (trade name for the drug memantine) was launched in the UK in 2002. Ebixa works in a different way from the other three and is the only drug that is recommended for people in both the moderate and severe stages of Alzheimer's disease. Side-effects may include dizziness, headaches and tiredness, and - rarely - hallucinations or confusion.
These drugs are not a cure, but they may stabilise some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease for a limited period, typically 6-12 months or longer. Caring for someone with dementia
Much can be done at a practical level to ensure that people with Alzheimer's live as independently as possible for as long as possible. Alzheimer's Society produces factsheets on a wide range of topics, including:
Carers: looking after yourself (523) Communicating (500) Understanding and respecting the person with dementia (524) Unusual behaviour (524).
See also the details for Carers UK in Useful organisations, below.
For details of Alzheimer's Society services in your area and information about a wide range of dementia-related topics, visit our website at alzheimers.org.uk
Useful organisations Carers UK
20 Great Dover Street London SE1 4LX T 0808 808 7777 (free carers' line, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm) E firstname.lastname@example.org W www.carersuk.org
Provides information and advice to carers about their rights, and how to access support. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
MidCity Place 71 High Holborn London WC1V 6NA T 0845 003 7780 E email@example.com W www.nice.org.uk
Provides national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health. It produces guidance on public health, health technologies, and on appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS. For the most up-to-date information on Alzheimer's treatments, see their website. Factsheet 401
Last reviewed: April 2011, updated: March 2012 Next review due: April 2013
Reviewed by: Professor Steve Iliffe, Professor of Primary Care for Older People, University College London and Professor Jenny Rusted, Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex
Blacknet Est '97: Is a social group where you can share Lifestyles, Submit News Stories, Add Events, Post your blog, Add your business, Upload and Share Videos, Music. You can also Comment, Rate and Review most of the content on the site. You can also meet African and Caribbeans from around the world. Whether you have come to find information, meet new people or simply watch some videos,
welcome aboard and glad to have you be a part of it.
The premiere site for Black culture and community interests. For more information call Tel:+44 (0)20 8305 6779 / +44 (0)161 660 4550. Be Part Of It.