There is no single test that can determine if you have Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or a blend of both.

—Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN

Have you ever wondered why it takes so long to get to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia?

The good news is that it should take a bit of time – because it is a diagnosis of exclusion – meaning any other issues have to be ruled out. So it’s a little more complicated than a single test can tell us.

In today’s episode, I will walk you through the types of tests, exams, and screenings that should be done to help your provider get to a diagnosis. Stay tuned!

▶ How is Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Diagnosed?

Investigating possible causes and early diagnosis is important because:

While there is no cure, there may be another underlying cause that is treatable/ reversible, or you have time to make lifestyle modifications that may help manage the disease.

It can explain why you’re having a harder time with your memory or decision-making

You can make decisions about your future and communicate those to your loved ones

There isn’t a single test. Any type of dementia is a “diagnosis of exclusion.”








Social History (modifiable risk factors)

Family History

Medical History – chronic diseases

Surgical History – history of post-op delirium

Review of systems


Vital signs



Review of prescription medications, supplements and over-the-counter medication


Screening for Depression

Screening for Memory Issues

Basic parts of the test measure:

Orientation (date, day, year, month)

Language (verbal fluency and naming)

Reason and computation (calculation and abstraction)

Visuospatial ability (replicating a 3-D image, clock drawing test)

Executive function (problem-solving)



Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE)

Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA)

Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam

Online test can be found here; there are 4 version that you can download or you can take it online



Head CT and MRIs – Look at brain structure

PET Scan – Uses a small amount of radioactive substance to measure

brain activity; can measure abnormal protein deposits in the brain

SPECT: Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography – A nuclear test that looks at blood flow and activity.

Get your checklist at

#alzheimers #dementia #alzheimersawareness #caregiver #dementiaawareness #alzheimersdisease #seniorliving #homecare #healthcare #health #caregiversupport #care #memorycare #aging #thisisgettingold #melissabphd



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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
and/or support future episodes of the podcast. Within the first 18 months of launching this podcast, we reached a ranking of top 10% globally. I have all of you who’ve been with me on this journey so far to thank for that!

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Find out more about her work HERE.