This year, at least 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia and that number is projected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050. This is why memory care assisted living is becoming a more important part of the country’s healthcare system and doctors are playing a very crucial role in helping the elderly suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease live the best life possible.
Doctors perform full evaluations for patients who are experiencing the symptoms of dementia and these are some of the professionals that you can rely on to help you make the right decisions regarding memory care assisted living:
Primary Care Physician
Also known as a generalist, a primary care physician is usually the first person that a patient consults with when he starts experiencing the symptoms of dementia. This professional is trained in general internal medicine along with some specializations, so he can diagnose and treat common medical conditions.
A primary care physician usually makes an initial assessment and determine if the patient has dementia or not, after which the patient will most likely be referred to a specialist.
A neurologist is one of the first specialists that primary care physicians refer to after doing an initial assessment of a patient. This doctor specializes in diseases of the nervous system including problems with the spinal cord, brain, and peripheral nerves.
It’s very important to remember, however, that not all neurologists cater to Alzheimer’s patients even if they are formally trained for it. Some neurologists choose to focus on other areas like Parkinson’s disease or seizures.
A geriatrician is essentially a primary care physician with training in geriatrics or the field of medicine that focuses on the medical care of older adults, especially those who are aged 65 and older.
A geriatrician can diagnose and treat different medical conditions concerning the elderly including Alzheimer’s dementia.
A neuropsychologist specializes in assessing different thinking abilities like memory, language, attention, problem-solving, and reading.
Most neuropsychologists today have degrees in clinical psychology and advanced training in neuropsychology, and they work closely with other specialists in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s dementia, especially in memory care assisted living.
To fully evaluate the condition of the patient to be able to make a proper diagnosis, these healthcare professionals use the following assessment tools:
- Medical history. This means assessing the patient’s past and current medical problems including an extensive evaluation of medications, family history, and lifestyle to rule out other neurological problems and properly diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
- Mental cognitive status test. This allows for a proper evaluation of memory, thinking, and problem-solving capabilities. Mental cognitive status tests can either be short or extensive depending on the condition of the patient.
Finally, there are laboratory tests such as blood and urine samples that will help doctors rule out other medical conditions and give a definitive diagnosis.
If there are any suspicions for other diseases, a healthcare team can use laboratory tests to properly recommend the right treatment options for patients suffering from memory problems.
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