When you suspect that your loved one may be in the early stages of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s’ disease, the very thought of the road ahead can be overwhelming. The goal is to get your loved one to a doctor for a professional assessment.
Here are a few steps in preparing your loved one for an appointment:
- Ask your loved one how they feel.
- Find a time when you are both relaxed and you have time. Don’t rush this conversation, and there’s no need to mention Alzheimer’s or dementia at this point. Use phrases such as “I’ve noticed you were having a hard time remembering…”, then cap off each statement with “What do you think?” and stop to listen. They may be relieved to be able to talk about their memory lapses. Or of course, they may deny it altogether. Be gentle and patient if this happens, but don’t give up.
- Discuss setting up a doctor’s appointment for a check-up.
- Once you have introduced the subject, your next step is to get your loved one to agree and see the doctor. One of the best ways to achieve this is by suggesting a simple “check-up”. This will shift the conversation back to a neutral point, pushing opinions and emotions off to one side. If your loved one continues to refuse, you will need to contact the doctor on your own. If that arises, you can ask their office to call your loved one to schedule a check-up.
- The doctors only have a limited amount of time to spend with each patient. You can help by being prepared.
- Take all medications, both over the counter (vitamins, aspirin) and prescription, to the visit.
- Take a list of past and current medical problems.
- Answer the doctor’s questions honestly and to the best of your ability.
- Write a list of symptoms, when they began, and how frequently they occur.
- Be specific. For example, “Last Monday, I (my husband) got lost on the way home from the store. It was scary.”
- Ask the doctor to explain any tests and how long it will take to get a diagnosis.