Can an Alzheimer's diagnosis be changed?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 13, 2016
Drose asked...

Several years (6-7) ago my husband returned from a doctors' visit (neurologist) in a very uncommunicative state. He would not tell me why. The next day he said, "The doctor says I have Alzheimer's Disease." The doctor gave him Aricept during each visit.

Last year my husband came home from the same neurologist and said "the doctor said I don't have Alzheimers and stop saying I have it." I did not quite believe what he said. Last week I went to the neurologist with him. I have been trying to determine what stage my husband is in. I asked the doctor when did he diagnose my husband's Alzheimer's Disease. He backstepped, sidestepped and double two-stepped, basically saying that he did not have AD. Has anyone out there had this happen? Do doctors change their diagnosis of AD? Through all of the research I have done, my husband has practically all of the symptoms, even sundowning. His waffling included something about vascular...I was completely dumbfounded.

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

Clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease cannot be make with complete certainty because there is no specific test for it. In addition, when brains of dementia victims are examined after their death, it is found that Alzheimer's disease is very often combined with vascular dementia. I do not know why your neurologist is now saying that it is not Alzheimer's disease; did your husband had some brain examination by MRI or CAT scan? In any case, the management of symptoms of dementia is the same, regardless of diagnosis.