Telehealth Doctors and Psychologists Australia

Updated 7 November 2023 | Approved By

4 min read

Alzheimer’s Disease – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition primarily affecting the elderly. This is characterized by the gradual loss of cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and problem-solving. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, making it a significant public health concern, and treatments focus on managing symptoms and improving the quality of life for affected individuals. In Australia, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the more common neurological conditions. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in nine people over the age of 65 live with this condition [1]. Women tend to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with this Alzheimer’s disease [1]. At 24-7MedCare, we provide accessible healthcare services, including virtual consultations, to assist individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Our experienced GPs can offer guidance, diagnosis, and treatment options within the convenience of your own home.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and debilitating neurological condition that typically affects the elderly. It impairs cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and problem-solving. The disease leads to the death of brain cells and diminishes brain health. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, making it a significant public health concern.

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms

Alzheimer's disease is a complex condition with a range of symptoms that progress over time. These symptoms typically progress more as the disease advances. It's important to note that Alzheimer's symptoms vary from person to person, and the progression of the disease can differ as well. Common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include [2]:
  • Dementia
  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive decline, which can affect the ability to think, problem-solve, plan, or follow instructions.
  • Disorientation that can cause confusion about their time, place, or even their own identity
  • Language problems include the ability to find the right words, repeat phrases, or have trouble following conversations.
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Difficulty with routine tasks (e.g., cooking, managing finances, personal hygiene, etc.)
  • Misplacing items
  • Poor judgment
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in personality
  • Wandering
  • Inability to recognize loved ones

Alzheimer’s disease causes

Alzheimer's disease is a complex condition with a variety of contributing factors, but its exact causes remain not fully understood. However, several key factors are believed to play a role. It's important to note that Alzheimer's disease is likely the result of a combination of these factors. Ongoing research aims to unravel the precise causes and mechanisms of the disease to develop better prevention and treatment strategies.
  • Genetic Factors: Some cases of Alzheimer's have a genetic component. Mutations in specific genes can increase the risk of developing the disease, especially in early-onset cases [3].
  • Abnormal Protein Accumulation: Alzheimer's is associated with the buildup of abnormal proteins in the brain, namely beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles [4]. These deposits disrupt brain function and cause cell damage.
  • Neuroinflammation: Inflammation in the brain may contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's. The body's immune response can harm healthy brain cells [5].
  • Vascular Factors: Problems with blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the brain can increase the risk of Alzheimer's. Conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease are risk factors [6].
  • Environmental and Lifestyle Factors: Factors such as a lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet, smoking [7], and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to a higher risk of Alzheimer's.
  • Age: Advanced age is the most significant risk factor. The risk of Alzheimer's increases as people get older. [8]

Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis and Testing

Diagnosis is a crucial step in managing Alzheimer's disease. Early detection allows for better care planning and support for individuals and their families. It's essential to consult with healthcare professionals for a proper evaluation and diagnosis. In Australia, there are also organizations and support services dedicated to helping individuals and families dealing with Alzheimer's disease [9]. It typically involves the following steps:
    • Visit to the Doctor
When a person or their family notices memory problems or cognitive changes, they usually start with a visit to a general practitioner or family doctor. The doctor will gather a medical history and assess the symptoms.
    • Referral to Specialists:
If Alzheimer's is suspected, your GP may refer the individual to specialists, such as neurologists, geriatricians, or psychiatrists, with expertise in diagnosing and managing cognitive disorders.
    • Cognitive Assessment
Specialists may conduct cognitive assessments, which include various memory and problem-solving tests, to evaluate the person's cognitive abilities. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a common tool used for this purpose.
    • Medical Imaging
Brain scans, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), are used to visualize the brain's structure and detect abnormalities or changes associated with Alzheimer's disease.
    • Blood Tests
These tests can help rule out other medical conditions that may cause similar symptoms.
    • Neuropsychological Evaluation
In some cases, neuropsychologists may perform more comprehensive cognitive assessments to provide a detailed profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
    • Spinal Fluid Analysis
Although less common, a lumbar puncture may be performed to analyze cerebrospinal fluid for specific markers linked to Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer’s disease treatment

The treatment of Alzheimer's disease focuses on managing symptoms and improving the quality of life for individuals affected. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, but various strategies and interventions are employed to address the condition [9].
    • Medications
Doctors may prescribe medications to manage certain symptoms. Cholinesterase inhibitors, like donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine, can help improve cognitive function and manage memory loss. Another medication, memantine, can be used to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer's symptoms.
    • Non-Pharmacological Approaches
Non-drug interventions are essential to the treatment plan. These may include cognitive stimulation programs, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to enhance cognitive and functional abilities.
    • Care and support
Supportive care is crucial, with a focus on creating a safe and comfortable environment for individuals with Alzheimer's. In Australia, numerous organizations and support services offer assistance to both individuals and their families in managing the disease.
    • Lifestyle Changes and Support
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle can help manage symptoms. This includes regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and social engagement to promote cognitive health. Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's disease Complications

Alzheimer's disease can lead to various complications that significantly impact both individuals with the disease and their families. Some common complications include:
  • Behavioral and psychological changes, including aggression, agitation, and hallucinations.
  • Due to safety concerns due to memory loss, the risk of wandering, and cognitive decline, those with Alzheimer's Disease are at risk of accidents and wandering.
  • Stress for carers, such as family and friends
  • Social isolation
  • Malnutrition and dehydration
  • Individuals with Alzheimer's disease may be more susceptible to infections due to weakened immune systems.
  • Developing pneumonia
  • Difficulty in communication
  • Financial and legal challenges

Receiving quality care from highly experienced doctors is essential for a prompt diagnosis and receiving the correct medical treatment. With 24-7 MedCare, you can experience telemedicine from the convenience of your own home. Our friendly online doctors will be available 24/7 for a consultation, anytime and anywhere in Australia.

To make a telehealth appointment booking, simply click on the button below.




  1. Alzheimer's Association. (2023). Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures.
  2. Alzheimer's Association. (2023). Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures. 
  3. National Institute on Aging. (2022). What Are the Signs of Alzheimer's Disease? 
  4. Alzheimer's Association. (2023). Genetics. 
  5. Dementia Australia. (2022). Causes of Dementia. 
  6. Leng, F., & Edison, P. (2021). Neuroinflammation and microglial activation in Alzheimer disease: where do we go from here?. Nature Reviews Neurology, 17(3), 157-172. 
  7. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Vascular Dementia. 
  8. Alzheimer's Society. (n.d). Smoking and Dementia. 
  9. Alzheimer's Association. (2023). Causes and Risk Factors. 
  10. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. (2016, December). Clinical Practice Guidelines and Principles of Care. Australian Family Physician, 45(12).