Alzheimer’s dementia is the most commonly diagnosed degenerative condition in older people with ageing.
The dementia is diagnosed on the basis of global deterioration in two or more domains of cognitive function such as memory, language comprehension and expression, orientation, praxis and visuospatial function. Hallucinations and challenging behaviours may also occur.
With Alzheimer’s, there may be characteristic brain imaging changes such as loss of cerebral volume on MRI brain scan. Functional imaging (such as with SPECT or PET) may be done if there is diagnostic uncertainty to confirm the typical pattern of frontotemporal hypometabolism.
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is primarily a clinical one but tests are usually done by neurologists who usually make the final diagnosis.
The treatment of Alzheimer’s is usually undertaken by Old Age Psychiatrists and includes prescription of drugs such as cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptor antagonists, which are also prescribed by neurologists and neuropsychiatrists.