After you or a loved one receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, one of the most important actions is finding a qualified medical provider for ongoing care.
Types of Doctors for Alzheimer's Disease
Several types of medical doctors are trained in how to evaluate and treat memory disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Primary Care Physician
You may have received the diagnosis from your primary care provider, a doctor such as a family physician or internist who provides your regular health care. This type of doctor may be experienced in caring for older adults with dementia problems, or they can refer you to the kind of specialist you may need.
These physicians specialize in the mental and emotional problems of older people and are experienced in assessing problems with cognition, memory, and behavior. Their work helps in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and in the mental health care of Alzheimer’s patients.
Geriatricians manage the general health of older adults. They look at the “big picture” or range of health issues their patients may have. Thus they may detect multiple conditions in the Alzheimer’s patient or identify when symptoms are caused by drug interactions.
Other professionals may help coordinate or implement geriatric care for older adults. For example, a geriatric care manager could oversee the day-to-day care of a patient at a senior facility, monitor their medication use, or provide advice to caregivers on managing aspects of the disease.
These specialists focus on problems in the brain and central nervous system. They can conduct and review brain scans, technology that allows specialists a virtual “look” inside the brain.
Performing tests to assess cognitive and memory problems, these providers are more involved in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease than its treatment. However, their work can assist medical specialists in identifying the source of symptoms and in determining treatments.
Explore Research Centers
One option to explore is whether there is an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in your state. These centers, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), provide research on Alzheimer’s. They also have coordinated care centers with multiple specialists who care for people with Alzheimer’s disease, and support groups for patients or their caregivers.
Visit the NIA website and view this map to see if there is an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in your area.