by Sara Eklund
After being diagnosed with dementia, knowing what questions to ask the doctor in those first visits can provide some much-needed peace of mind to both the patient and family members. While learning to live with dementia is a difficult adjustment, knowing what to expect can certainly ease the transition and create a sense of security. At Mindmate, we want all individuals who’ve had their lives affected by dementia to feel empowered from the start. Based on our research and experience, the following five are the most important questions for loved ones to ask the doctor about living with dementia.
The 5 Must-Ask Questions for your Doctor about dementia:
1. What is likely causing the symptoms and are there any other potential causes?
This is an incredibly important first question to ask the doctor about dementia. Knowing all potential causes of symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, and loneliness will give you a more accurate picture of the true effects of dementia and lead to clarifying conversations surrounding the way the person affected is feeling.
2. What changes should I expect based on my individual diagnoses?
Each form of dementia will have different effects. Even though it can be a tough topic, it’s helpful to ask the doctor about what to expect in the short and long-term so that you can begin to fully process and prepare for the future. Be sure to get clarity on how quickly it will progress, what areas of your daily life may become more difficult, and what tasks you may start needing some help doing.
3. What treatment options are available and which do you think best fits our situation?
When it comes to treating dementia there are a variety of options (including the Mindmate app). Be sure to ask the doctor what is available as well as for a recommendation on the best treatments for your case. Getting an explanation as to why this particular treatment would be best is also very helpful in understanding the dementia itself. Additionally, be sure to ask the doctor about assessments to take down the road to ensure the chosen treatment is effective.
4. How can I best care for and keep this person safe in the event of wandering or confusion?
Wandering and general confusion are very common symptoms of dementia and are certainly a major point of concern for family members upon diagnosis. Ask your doctor right off the bat about the best ways to prevent and respond well to these potential situations.
5. Are there certain informational resources/readings you recommend? When should we just pick up the phone and call you?
The Mindmate family can recommend some wonderful resources, including Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Society, but knowing all your options - including when is the right time to just call your doctor directly - is invaluable. Oftentimes, family members are nervous they are overreacting and hesitate to “bother” the doctor. Having clarity on when is the appropriate time to just pick up the phone and call to ask your doctor about a loved one’s dementia is crucial.