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The Right Doctor To Visit for an Alzheimer's Diagnosis

by Carole Larkin, Alzheimer's & Dementia Expert
March 26, 2015

Question: Who should I go to if I suspect my aging mother has Alzheimer’s disease?

Answer: Always start with her primary care physician. If a loved one shows one or more signs of dementia, they need to get what I call a “fully baked” diagnosis. A “fully baked” diagnosis has 3 parts.

Verbal and written tests and a complete history of medical and cognitive symptoms told to the doctor by the caregiver/family member.

Special blood tests to rule out other reasons for a dementia such as thyroid imbalance, B-12 deficiency, other imbalances, too much medication, or the wrong type of medication that clashes with another medication, etc.

An MRI and/or PET scan of the brain which may show if strokes or mini strokes have taken place.

A “half baked” diagnosis is a 10-15 minute verbal or written test, and then the doctor saying, “Here is a prescription. Take this. I can’t do anything else for you.”

If the primary care physician gives her a “half backed” diagnosis, ask for a referral to a Neurologist, a Geriatrician or a Geriatric Psychiatrist. If there isn’t one near you, then go to the nearest city with a Medical School. You can generally find one of the three types of specialists at that school/hospital.

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Carole Larkin MA, CMC, CAEd, QDCS, EICS is a geriatric care manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. Her company, ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.

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