Distress. Fear. Embarrassment. The feelings surrounding discussing a dementia diagnosis with a doctor can cause older adults to keep their suspicions to themselves. A recently available AARP survey peeled away a few of the layers of emotion to get to the reason – namely, worry over losing independence and becoming a problem to others.
While there is some truth to those fears, there are also some misconceptions fueling them. For instance, virtually half of the participants, who were adults age 40 and over, believe they are more likely to get dementia as they get older. The reality is that just over 10% of older adults over age 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Because of this, it’s important for older adults to communicate with their physicians for any realistic, straightforward information they need – especially if any warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease are being noticed, for instance:
- Memory decline that is disruptive to daily life
- Planning and/or problem solving challenges
- Issues with finishing once-familiar tasks
- Confusion and disorientation to place and time
- Vision issues and difficulties determining color/contrast and judging distance
- Speaking/writing changes
- Losing things and leaving them in unusual locations
- A drop in judgment
- Social withdrawal
- Personality/mood differences
The following are some suggestions to overcome any reluctance in talking to your doctor about a dementia diagnosis, and exactly how to help make the conversation as productive as you possibly can.
- Bring a buddy. It’s reassuring to have the support of a dependable caregiver, friend or family member during the appointment. If at all possible, this person can provide more information to the doctor in addition to any concerns being noticed from their perspective.
- Don’t wait. The natural instinct may be to put off bringing up something that could potentially be so life-changing. However, time is of the essence in receiving a correct diagnosis as well as the most effective treatment.
- Compare then and now. Share with the physician the specific changes that are causing concern. For instance, a cherished older adult might be a retired math teacher who, up until last month, didn’t have to think twice about balancing the checkbook, but lately is experiencing some confusion with the task.
The doctor can review medicines to see if adverse reactions are generating a problem, and schedule tests and assessments to determine the best plan of action.
Charter Home Health’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 over the phone at 215-935-6321 for more details about our dementia care and our other services for at home care in Philadelphia and nearby communities.