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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
Alzheimer's (ALLS-hi-merz) is a disease of the brain that impairs an individual's memory and ability to reason. To diagnose Alzheimer's disease, a person experiencing symptoms requires a complete physical, psychiatric, and neurological evaluation by a physician experienced in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's. This examination may include a detailed medical history, mental status test, neuro-psychological testing, brain imaging tests, blood work, and urinalysis. Documentation of symptoms and behavioral incidents over time, in a diary fashion, can assist in understanding the person's history. Although no cure for Alzheimer's disease is presently available, there is medication that may slow the progression of the disease. In addition, a calm and well-structured environment may help the individual continue functioning. Medication can lessen agitation, anxiety, and unpredictable behavior, improve sleeping patterns, and treat depression. Scientists are still looking for the cause of Alzheimer's disease. Suspected causes include a genetic pre-disposition, a slow virus, or other infectious agents, environmental toxins or poisons, such as aluminum, and immunologic (ihm-you-no-LAW-jick) changes. For more medical information on Alzheimer's disease, consult a health care provider.

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