An early diagnosis provides people with the ability to plan for the future changes they are likely to experience.

It also provides the ability to participate in clinical trials testing new possible treatments and prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s disease.

The earlier treatments and prevention strategies are implemented, the more likely they are to be successful in delaying or stopping the disease.

In some cases, what appears to be dementia might be attributed to other medical conditions, such as vitamin and hormone deficiencies, depression, infection or cancer. In such instances, prompt and accurate diagnosis is essential to ensure that individuals receive the appropriate treatment they need.

Drug treatments in clinical trials are now being tested in the very early stages of the disease before symptoms have developed, and when less damage to the brain has occurred.

With up to 40% of the risk of dementia being attributed to modifiable risk factors, an early diagnosis of the disease, provides the best opportunity to reduce the risk of the disease progressing.

These lifestyle changes and treatments work best when the disease is in its early stages, so it is vital to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease as early as possible.


How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?

Doctors utilise a combination of physical and mental assessments to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, which may include the following:

  • Medical assessment with a doctor or GP, which might include a review of medical history, a physical examination, blood and urine tests, a review of medications, and talking with partners and family.
  • Neurological Examinations, which assess reflexes, coordination, eye movement, muscle tone and strength, speech and sensation.
  • Specialised Diagnostic Tests are designed to quickly assess changes in behaviours and symptoms. These tests may include questionnaires and exercises that test skills such as reading, writing, spacial-orientation and short term memory
  • Advanced Brain Imaging such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET Scans (positron emission tomography) which offer a view into the brain’s intricate structure and function.

A definitive diagnosis is reached following a thorough clinical consultation involving the patient’s General Practitioner (GP) and a team of specialists, which may include geriatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists. Confirming the diagnosis can sometimes be a lengthy process, spanning a number of years.

Our Ongoing Research

Research into modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease is a major theme of research conducted at ARA, together with research into the early diagnosis of the disease.

Research Themes