Understanding Alzheimer's Disease: What You Need to Know

When should you see your doctor?

Rita’s story

younger woman embracing older womanA few months ago, my mother started having trouble remembering things. Sometimes, she couldn’t find the right words. Then, she got lost on her way home from the store. I knew something was wrong. I talked with my mom, and we decided to see her doctor.

The doctor asked about the changes we had seen and did a medical exam. He also changed one of Mom’s medicines to see if that would make a difference. And, he suggested that she see a specialist who could test her memory and thinking skills. He said it was good that she came in now instead of waiting so we could start figuring out what the problem might be.


If you or someone in your family thinks your forgetfulness is getting in the way of your normal routine, it’s time to see your doctor. Seeing the doctor when you first start having memory problems can help you find out what’s causing your forgetfulness. If you have Alzheimer’s, finding the disease early gives you and your family more time to plan for your treatment and care.

Your doctor or a specialist may do the following things to find out if you have Alzheimer’s disease:

  • give you a medical check-up
  • ask questions about your family’s health
  • ask how well you can do everyday things like driving, shopping for food, and paying bills
  • talk with someone in your family about your memory problems
  • test your memory, problem-solving, counting, and language skills
  • check your blood and urine, and do other medical tests
  • do brain scans that show pictures of your brain

Publication Date: June 2011
Page Last Updated: October 7, 2014