How to Discuss a Potential Dementia Diagnosis with the Physician

How to Discuss a Potential Dementia Diagnosis with the Physician

Shame. Fear. Embarrassment. The feelings associated with a potential dementia diagnosis can cause older adults to keep their suspicions to themselves. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, while the reasons vary, many people are worried about losing independence and becoming a burden to others.

Although there is some validity to those worries, there are also some misconceptions fueling them. Researchers don’t believe there is one cause of Alzheimer’s. And while age does increase risk, it is not a direct cause of Alzheimer’s. In fact, just over 10% of seniors over age 65 are identified as having Alzheimer’s disease.

For this reason, it is crucial for seniors to speak with their doctors for any practical, straightforward information they want – especially if any warning signs of Alzheimer's disease are being observed, for example:

  • Memory decline that is disruptive to everyday life
  • Planning and/or problem-solving issues
  • Issues with finishing once-familiar tasks
  • Disorientation and confusion to place and time
  • Vision issues and difficulty identifying color/contrast and judging distance
  • Writing/speaking changes
  • Losing items and leaving them in unusual spots
  • A decrease in judgment
  • Social withdrawal
  • Personality/mood differences

Here are a few strategies to conquer any reluctance in speaking with the physician about dementia, and how to help make the conversation as successful as you can.

  • Don’t wait. The normal instinct is sometimes to put off bringing up something that may potentially be so life-changing. Nevertheless, time is of the essence in obtaining a correct diagnosis as well as the most effective treatment.
  • Bring a buddy. It is reassuring to have the support of a dependable friend, family member, or caregiver during the appointment. If at all possible, this person can offer further information to the physician along with any concerns being noticed from their perspective.
  • Make comparisons to then and now. Share with the physician the particular changes that are causing concern. For instance, an older adult may be a retired math teacher who, up until last month, didn’t have to think twice about balancing the checkbook, but recently is experiencing some mental confusion with the task.

The physician can review medications to see if side effects are generating a problem and schedule assessments and test to ascertain the best course of action.

Amy’s Helping Hands’ kind and friendly caregiving companions are always readily available to accompany seniors to medical appointments and procedures and to aid in making life easier and more manageable in a variety of other ways as well. Email or call us at 519.915.4370 for additional details about our trusted Windsor Ontario in-home care services.