Effective communication with your doctor is important when you are seeking a diagnosis for memory loss. Ask questions, be prepared to answer questions and be as honest as possible.

Finding your doctor

Experts estimate a skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer's disease with more than 90% accuracy. The first step in following up on symptoms is finding a doctor you feel comfortable with. Many people contact their primary care physician or internist about their concerns regarding memory loss, and primary care doctors often oversee the diagnostic process themselves.

Your doctor will evaluate your overall health and identify any conditions that could affect how well your mind is working. Your doctor may refer you to a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's and other dementias such as a:

  • Neurologist, who specializes in diseases of the brain and nervous system.
  • Psychiatrist, who specializes in disorders that affect mood or the way the mind works.
  • Psychologist, who has special training in testing memory and other mental functions.
  • Geriatrician, who specializes in the care of older adults and Alzheimer's disease.

Additional help

Your local Alzheimer's Association can provide a list of Alzheimer's and other dementia specialists in your area.

Alzheimer's Disease Centers (ADCs), funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), offer diagnosis and treatment services and are located across the country.

Learn more: Choosing a Doctor to Evaluate Memory and Thinking Problems (PDF), Communicating with Doctors or Health Care Professionals (PDF) and Stages of Alzheimer's (PDF).

What to bring to a visit for memory loss

  • A list of any changes in your health, including your mood, memory and behaviors. Make a note of any changes you’ve noticed since your last appointment. Be as specific as possible.
  • A list of past and current medical problems: Tell your doctor if other family members had illnesses that caused memory problems.
  • A list of current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.
  • A list of vitamins or supplements you’ve added to your medication regimen.
  • Be prepared to answer the doctor's questions honestly and to the best of your ability.

What to expect

Take our interactive tour to learn what to expect when being evaluated for memory and thinking problems.

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Questions to ask about testing for memory loss

Let the doctor or other medical professionals know if you need additional information or clarification.

  • What tests will be performed?
  • What does each test involve?
  • How long will the tests take?
  • How long will it take to learn results?

Alzheimer’s Navigator can help you map out a plan to approach Alzheimer's

When facing Alzheimer's disease or another dementia, there are a lot of things to consider. We can help you figure out your next steps. Go to Alzheimer’s Navigator®, our free, online tool, and complete a series of short surveys to receive a customized action plan designed just for you.

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