Receiving an Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Receiving an Alzheimer's Diagnosis
The PicnicHealth Team
December 14, 2022
Blog post originally written by the AllStripes community team. AllStripes was acquired by PicnicHealth in 2023.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common form of dementia, affecting more than five million Americans over the age of 65, and approximately 200,000 Americans under 65 who are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It is characterized by problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. If you or someone you care for has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to learn about the disease and it’s different stages so that you can get the right treatment and support.

How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?

If an individual suspects that they have Alzheimer’s disease, getting diagnosed in a timely manner is important so that other potential conditions or causes can be ruled out and important decisions about treatment, support and care can be made. Diagnosis is typically performed by a doctor’s examination, where the patient undergoes various tests to assess the signs and symptoms that they are exhibiting. 

When evaluating someone for Alzheimer’s disease, the doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation of the individual's medical history, symptoms, cognitive abilities, and functional abilities. This may involve tests to assess a person's memory, thinking skills, and behavior, as well as conversations with friends or family members who can provide additional information about the individual's symptoms. Once this is complete, additional tests may be necessary to help rule out other causes of memory loss or cognitive impairment.

Who can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is usually diagnosed by a primary care provider, a neurologist (a doctor specializing in conditions of the brain), or a geriatrician (a doctor specializing in conditions affecting older adults). The doctor will evaluate a patient’s symptoms, medical history, and current medications. 

After the initial tests and examination, the doctor may request additional laboratory tests, detailed memory testing, or brain imaging tests. Together, this information can help to rule out other conditions and result in an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. 

How is Alzheimer’s disease treated? 

Because Alzheimer’s disease is complex, with lots of different (and often unknown) causes, there isn’t one drug or treatment that works for everyone affected by the disease. However, scientists have made a lot of progress in recent years, and there are now several treatments available that can help patients manage their Alzheimer’s symptoms. Most of the treatments currently available are most effective for patients with mild or moderate-stage Alzheimer’s disease. 

What Alzheimer’s disease treatments are currently available?

One type of drug that has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is “cholinesterase inhibitors”, including galantamine, rivastigmine, and donepezil. It’s important to understand that these drugs can’t reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, or repair the parts of the brain that become damaged by the disease. However, they can reduce some of the symptoms relating to memory loss, thinking, language, and judgement. 

While cholinesterase inhibitors can improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, they can’t prevent the disease from progressing. However, there is a new drug that has been shown to do that - Aducanumab. This drug was only recently approved by the FDA in 2021, and is the first drug that has been shown to reduce the size of brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is important to note that Aducanumab is not a cure for Alzheimer’s and it does not work for everyone. It can also cause side effects, such as headaches and swelling in the brain, which can be severe in some cases. Patients should talk to their doctor about the potential benefits and risks of Aducanumab before starting treatment.

Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s disease?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this stage. The good news is that many major pharmaceutical companies in the US are heavily investing in Alzheimer’s research, and there are currently more than 400 active clinical trials relating to Alzheimer’s research and different potential drugs and therapies. 

With funding for Alzheimer’s disease research at an all-time high, patients and caregivers alike can be hopeful for more diagnostic tools, treatment options, and a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease in the coming years. 


The PicnicHealth Team

About PicnicHealth

Empower people to own their medical records. Advance medicine. We’re a passionate group of doctors, patients, data nerds, engineers, and builders, who believe in making something real that changes lives today and in the future.

Sign Up

We know that every person's story is unique and deserves to be heard.

Join our early breast cancer registry to be counted and share your story with research.

Learn More

Create a List

List the names of all the doctors, hospitals, and other facilities your loved one visits regularly, along with those they have visited in the past. Try to go back as far as you can, striving for at least the last 5-10 years, but do your best. Even if you can’t remember them all, having a strong baseline can help you quickly identify gaps in records.

Ensure You Have the Appropriate Legal Status

It is important to make sure that you are fully empowered to make decisions on behalf of your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Your relationship status with the patient may not be enough to legally give you access to your loved one's medical information. It is a good idea to talk to an expert about securing special legal status, such as Power of Attorney (POA), a legal document that allows an individual to name someone as their decision maker should they no longer be able to make decisions on their own.

Gather and Organize the Medical Records in One Place

It’s important to have all of your loved one’s medical records together in one spot. This makes it much easier for you and your loved one’s physicians to accurately map the patient’s medical journey and more easily share information between doctors. Fortunately, tools exist to make record management and access simple. A free resource like PicnicHealth helps you collect and organize all of this information. PicnicHealth’s intuitive timeline allows you to pinpoint data across the medical history, eliminating your need for keeping heavy binders filled with paper records or keeping track of multiple software portal logins.

Review the Medical Records to be an Informed Advocate

The better you understand your loved one's medical history, the better you can advocate on their behalf. Access and understanding of this information will help you to ask informed questions with physicians. Through regular communication backed by the data in the medical records, you can help your loved one’s care team develop a more successful care plan.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

Learn More

Together, we can make a difference.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

Learn More

Build a support network.

When you’re juggling appointment times and insurance claims, putting a robust support system together might not strike you as the most urgent task. Investing the time to cultivate relationships with people can turn to in times of need will pay dividends. The next time you need a last-minute ride or just someone to listen, you won’t be on your own.

There are many condition-specific support groups and support groups for caregivers generally in person or online. In addition to the encouragement and empathy they provide, support groups can be a helpful source of tips, resources, and recommendations for navigating caregiving.


Stay organized.

The backbone of effective caregiving is organization. Keep medical information, appointment schedules, and medication lists in order. Use a planner or a digital service like PicnicHealth to stay on top of your responsibilities. This attention to detail can prevent future complications and reduce day-to-day stress.


Explore treatments and clinical trials.

We’ve seen incredible breakthroughs in treatment over the past couple of years, powered by patients and their caregivers participating in research. Stay in the loop about the latest in medical advancements and available resources that could benefit your loved one. Whether it’s a new therapy option or a community service that aids independence, being informed can make a world of difference in the quality of care you provide.


Make time for self-care.

It may seem self-centered to focus on self-care—but when you feel good, you can be a better caregiver. Whether it’s exercise, a mindfulness practice, a soak in the bath, or just time to rest when you need it, carve out those moments in the day when you can unwind, reset, and stay healthy mentally and physically. Think of it as building up your reserves of kindness, patience, and understanding—which can only benefit your loved one. No one can pour from an empty cup.

Having trouble managing your loved one's medical records?

Easily manage all of your loved one's medical records and contribute to ongoing Alzheimer's research with PicnicHealth.

Learn More

LC-FAOD Odyssey: A Preliminary Analysis, presented at INFORM 2021

Data from real-world medical records:

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

16 yrs old

Median age at enrollment

38% Female

15 providers / patient

7.5 years of data / patient

Data from patient-reported outcome (PRO) survey

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

We hope you found this session informative! Sign up for PicnicHealth’s Alzheimer’s research program below.

Join Now
Tip: Download or print the poster at the end of this article to review before your next appointment!
However, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of protein for your individual needs. In general, a diet with moderate protein intake (about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day) is recommended for people with kidney diseases.

Learn more about contributing to IgAN research with PicnicHealth. 

Learn More

Save The Top-10 List

Download this list to save onto your phone or print it out for your fridge!

Download PDF

Keep an Eye on These Test Results

Download this poster to save onto your phone or print it out for your fridge!

Download PDF

Resource Flyer

Explore the essential takeaways from Victoria's Webinar, along with some resources that she shared.

Download PDF

Pre-Appointment Worksheet

Prepare for your loved one's next appointment

Download PDF