Sometimes the first signs of dementia are noticed by family and loved ones. Gerontologist Dr. Macie Smith offers tips to help someone close to you in seeking diagnosis and treatment.
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Hi. I’m Dr. Macy Smith. If you’ve started noticing one or more of the warning signs of dementia such as frequent memory lapses or misplacing items, it’s likely time to make an appointment with your loved one’s doctor.
So I want to offer some suggestions on what to expect when you go to the doctor. Make sure that you don’t force your loved one into the doctor’s office. Instead casually suggest it in conversation.
Once the appointment has been made, ideally you’d want to speak to the doctor ahead of time to disclose what you’ve noticed. Also plan to attend the appointment if possible. Don’t force yourself into the situation but instead say that you want to go to provide another set of ears so nothing will be missed.
When you get to the doctor’s office, help your loved ones fill out any necessary paperwork, and ask if you can be included on their HIPAA form, so that medical information can be shared with you. If you are not invited into the exam room, just call the doctor afterwards to get an update, but only if you’re on the HIPAA form.
During the visit, the doctor should first rule out treatable causes of dementia, like a urinary tract infection (UTI) or vitamin deficiency, or even medication side effects or interactions.
If the doctor has concerns about the possibility of a progressive type of dementia, the doctor should refer your loved one to a neurologist for a brain scan and cognitive tests. In the event the neurologist makes a diagnosis of a progressive type of dementia like Alzheimer’s, your loved one will likely get started on a treatment plan to address the symptoms of the disease as early as possible, which is very key to preserving their quality of life.
We’ve got so much more in our What to Expect as Our Loved Ones Age series and our Memory Care Family Resource Guide at synergyhomecare.com. See you next time!
Dr. Macie P. Smith is a licensed gerontology social worker who is focused on helping families support their aging loved ones through long-term care. Specifically, Dr. Smith educates caregivers on how to care for seniors with dementia. She is an advocate for specialized care and assists others in finding a way to provide a better quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Smith has dedicated over 22 years of her life working in gerontology and assisting families in finding personalized solutions for dementia care. For more articles by Dr. Macie Smith, go to synergyhomecare.com/blog/.