Study finds disease often confused with other forms of dementia.
When you reach a certain age it seems everything starts breaking down all at once.
Blood pressure tends to rise, walking and hearing don't come as easily.
The same can be said for another by-product of aging: Memory loss.
It's usually not just one thing causing the problem.
"Many times, dementia doesn't exist from a single cause," says Dr. Maria Carrillo of the Alzheimer's Association.
A new study based on autopsies of people who'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease suggests that diagnosis is either inaccurate or insufficient more than half the time.
Experts say dementia is so complicated that patients may actually be suffering from various forms of the disease all at once.
"This highlights the need for additional research towards trying to find better ways to diagnose Alzheimer's disease and other dementias," Carrillo says.
Right now doctors make a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease based on a number of criteria and symptoms, and by ruling out things like brain tumors.
A true look at what's really going on inside the brain is only attainable by autopsy.
Dr. Carrillo says an accurate diagnosis is critical to giving patients the right treatment.
"We actually have to be very careful when we make a diagnosis of dementia, because those medications are very costly," she says.
And with the aging baby boomer population the disease is expected to double or even triple in the next two decades.
The Alzheimer's Association is supporting research to look for signs of the disease earlier in brain scans and in biological markers found in spinal cerebral fluid.