Questions for your doctor when seeking a diagnosis
My mother is 82 years of age and she is becoming much more forgetful. She constantly repeats herself and forgets everything that I say. She is also more argumentative lately and when I ask her what is wrong, she gets upset and says she is fine. What can I do?
Many families are forced to confront difficult situations like this when their aging parents display signs of dementia. It’s best to see your doctor for help and a diagnosis.
According to dementia consultant and expert Marg Eisner, having family members accompany the person experiencing these symptoms to appointment is critically important. “Family members can give the doctor specific information about the symptoms, when they began and the progression of memory loss,” she says.
Doctors need this information to make an accurate assessment because symptoms can have many causes. “It could be that the person has some other medical condition causing these changes,” Marg explains. “But if a diagnosis of dementia is the eventual outcome, the sooner one has this knowledge the better.”
Besides giving the doctor accurate, relevant information, you can make the appointment even more helpful for you and the person with dementia by making sure you understand the following:
- What specific changes or symptoms concern you the most?
- Do you need any further explanation of medical terms used?
- What tests will be performed and how long it will take to get a diagnosis?
- Are there any other conditions that could be causing these symptoms or making them worse, e.g. diabetes, heart disease?
- Do you need to be referred to a specialist?
- What treatment options are available and what are their side effects?
- When should you come back for another visit?
The Alzheimer Society has many resources and programs that can also help. To find a Society close to you, or to learn more about how to prepare for a doctor’s appointment, visit www.alzheimerontario.ca.