August 12, 2021

Senior woman talking with her doctor

Get support in talking to a doctor about a potential dementia diagnosis.

Shame. Fear. Embarrassment. The thoughts and feelings associated with a potential dementia diagnosis may cause older adults to keep their worries to themselves. A newly released AARP survey peeled away some of the layers of emotion to get to the root cause – namely, worry over losing independence and becoming a burden to others.

While there is some truth to those fears, there are also some misconceptions contributing to them. For example, approximately half of the participants, who were adults age 40 and over, believed they were likely to get dementia as they get older. But statistically, only just over 10% of older adults over age 65 are identified as having Alzheimer’s disease.

As a result, it’s important for older adults to talk to their physicians for the realistic, straightforward information they want about a potential dementia diagnosis – especially if any warning signs of dementia are present, such as:

  • Memory decline that is disruptive to everyday life
  • Planning/problem-solving difficulties
  • Trouble with accomplishing once-familiar tasks
  • Confusion and disorientation to place and time
  • Vision issues and difficulty identifying color/contrast and judging distance
  • Writing/speaking changes
  • Losing things and leaving them in unusual spots
  • A decline in judgment
  • Social withdrawal
  • Personality/mood changes

Here are some strategies to address any reluctance in communicating with the physician about dementia and exactly how to help make the conversation as successful as you possibly can.

  • Don’t put it off. The natural inclination may be to put off bringing up something that could potentially be so life-changing. Nonetheless, time is of the essence in receiving a correct diagnosis along with the most effective treatment. 
  • Bring a companion. It is reassuring to have the support of a trusted friend, family member, or caregiver at the appointment. Ideally, this person can provide additional information to the physician along with any concerns being noticed from their perspective.
  • Compare then and now. Share with the doctor the particular changes that are causing concern. For instance, an older adult may be a retired math teacher who, up until last month, didn’t have to think twice about balancing the checkbook, but recently is experiencing some mental confusion with the task.

The physician can review prescriptions to see if adverse reactions are creating an issue, and schedule tests and assessments to determine the best course of action.

Continuum’s kind and friendly caregiving companions are always on hand to accompany older adults to medical appointments and procedures, and to help make life easier and more manageable in a variety of other ways as well. To learn more about our home care in St. Louis and the surrounding areas, contact us online or call us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for additional details.