Finding a Doctor

August 27, 2014

Alzheimer’s Treatment Centers

The National Institute on Aging supports about 30 multi-disciplinary Alzheimer’s disease centers across the country. These are premier medical research institutions that have dedicated research programs to the study of Alzheimer’s. Most of these centers also provide diagnosis, treatment and support services for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

Click here to use the “Resource Locator” tool to find an Alzheimer’s disease center near you.

Alzheimer’s Treatment Doctors

Primary care physicians, who include “general practitioners” as well as doctors who are “board-certified” in family practice or internal medicine, should be able to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Some primary care physicians may also be board-certified in geriatrics, a branch of medicine concerned with diseases and problems of older age.

Neurologists are doctors who specialize in conditions of the nervous system, including the brain. Neurologistsmay sub-specialize in various areas, so it is important to consult with a neurologist who has experience diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in disorders of the mind. Geriatric psychiatrists are sub-specialists who are primarily concerned with disorders affecting older people.

Other types of doctors who might specialize in or have experience with Alzheimer’s disease include neuropsychologists and neuropsychiatrists, who have special expertise in disorders of the brain.

Click here to use the “Resource Locator” tool to search for a physician near you.

Finding Alzheimer’s Treatment

Click here to use the “Resource Locator” tool to access a database of physicians who specialize in fields related to Alzheimer’s, including geriatric medicine, neurology, and psychiatry. All are members of the American Medical Association, the premier medical professional organization for doctors and specialists. You can use the search function to find a doctor in your area.

If you belong to a managed care plan, you may need to locate qualified physicians through your plan. Contact your health plan’s administrator or the plan’s physician directory to determine your options. You can also ask friends and associates, including your own doctor, for recommendations

Choosing The Right Doctor

Choosing a doctor is a very important decision, one that is best made when you are healthy. Not only do you want a doctor who is competent and well-trained – particularly in the types of health issues you have – but you also want one who gives you the time necessary to listen to and address your health problems or questions. A doctor who knows you (or your loved one) and is familiar with your (or your loved one’s) health concerns is a good starting point; however, some experts believe that your long-time family physician is NOT the best person to go to for a diagnosis, because the familiarity he or she has with you or your loved one may affect the doctor’s medical judgment. If you have a family doctor that you know and trust, you may want to ask him or her for a referral to a doctor who specializes in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. Seek out a physician whose specialty is geriatrics, neurology, or clinical psychiatry, because these types of doctors are generally well-trained in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other related dementias. Click here to use the “Resource Locator” tool to find physicians near you.

There are a number of things you can do to help ensure you’re seeing the right doctor:

  • Call the doctor’s office to speak with an office manager or staff person who can provide details about the doctor’s credentials, office policies and payment procedures.
  • Ask friends, family and associates about their experiences.
  • Check to see what “board certifications” the doctor has; these indicate that the doctor has passed critical examinations (“boards”) that are developed by professional medical associations to test skills in a particular area of medicine.
  • Find out how many of the doctor’s patients are in your age range and if he/she has experience with Alzheimer’s disease.

Are Diagnostic Tests Insured?

Some insurance and managed care plans will cover the costs of a diagnostic assessment for Alzheimer’s disease. Check with your health plan’s administrator to understand the policies and procedures.

Medicare, the government’s health-insurance program for people 65 and up, and Medicaid, the joint federal-state medical-assistance program for people with limited income or assets, typically reimburse doctors for a diagnostic assessment and certain medical tests needed to determine if a patient has Alzheimer’s disease – provided your doctor accepts these plans as payment. Talk to your doctor or doctor’s staff about what is covered.

Click here for more information about Medicare.

Click here for more information about Medicaid.


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