Mayo Clinic doctors who have training in nervous system conditions (neurologists) and other specialties work together to diagnose Alzheimer's disease and related conditions.
To diagnose Alzheimer's disease, your doctor will conduct a complete physical and neurological examination. Your doctor will check for signs of other conditions that may impair your memory and thinking skills. You and your family members will discuss your symptoms and medical history with your doctor. Your doctor also may order several tests to exclude other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
Tests may include:
- Mental status and neuropsychological tests. Your doctor will ask you several questions and conduct tests to assess your memory and thinking abilities (cognitive skills). You may have additional psychiatric assessments to test for depression or other mental illnesses.
- Blood tests. Your blood may be tested for vitamin deficiency, thyroid disorders and other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses powerful radio waves and magnets to create a three-dimensional view of your brain. In this test, your doctor can view abnormalities in your brain that may be causing your symptoms.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan or single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT). In these tests, a doctor injects you with a small amount of radioactive material and places emission detectors on your brain. PET provides visual images of brain activity. SPECT measures blood flow to various regions of your brain.
Read more about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan at MayoClinic.com.