Discussing a Possible Alzheimer’s Diagnosis with a Doctor

Anxiety. Embarrassment. Fear. The thoughts and feelings caused by a possible dementia diagnosis may cause seniors to keep their suspicions to themselves. A recent AARP survey peeled away a few of the layers of emotion to find the root cause – namely, worry over losing independence and becoming a problem to others.

While there is some good reason for those concerns, there are also some misconceptions adding to them. For example, almost half of the participants, who were adults age 40 and over, believe they’re prone to get dementia as they age. The truth is that just over 10% of older adults over age 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

For this reason, it’s vital for seniors to talk to their doctors for the practical, straightforward information they need about a possible dementia diagnosis – especially if any warning signs of dementia are becoming noticeable, such as:

  • Memory decline which is disruptive to everyday life
  • Planning and/or problem-solving issues
  • Issues with accomplishing once-familiar tasks
  • Disorientation and confusion to time and place
  • Vision problems and problems identifying color/contrast and judging distance
  • Speaking/writing changes
  • Losing items and leaving them in unusual places
  • A decrease in judgment
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood/personality changes

The following are a few tips to overcome any hesitance in communicating with the physician about dementia, and how to make the conversation as productive as you can.

  • Bring a buddy. It is comforting to have the support of a trusted family member, friend or caregiver at the appointment. Ideally, this person can offer more information to the doctor as well as any concerns being noticed from their perspective.
  • Don’t put it off. The normal instinct may be to put off bringing up something that may potentially be so life-changing. Nevertheless, time is of the essence in obtaining a proper diagnosis as well as the most effective treatment.
  • Compare then and now. Share with the doctor the specific changes that are causing concern. For example, a senior loved one might be a retired math teacher who, up until last month, didn’t need to think twice about balancing the checkbook, but recently is experiencing some mental confusion with the task.

The doctor can review prescriptions to see if adverse reactions are producing an issue, and schedule assessments and tests to ascertain the best plan of action.

Seniorcorp’s kind and friendly caregiving companions are always readily available to accompany older adults to medical appointments and procedures, and to help make life easier and more manageable in a number of different ways as well. Contact us online or call us at (757) 640-0557 for more details about our home care services in Norfolk and the surrounding areas.