Slowly, almost subtly, it begins. Keys have gone missing. Birthdays and occasions that were missed making a grammatical error or losing track of the discourse in the middle. These are sometimes ignored as normal indicators of aging. Still, they might be the first signs of something more serious, such as the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
When a doctor diagnoses your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you should ask many questions. It’s important to inquire to the doctor about the diagnosis as this will help you to understand your loved one’s present state of being and how this degenerative disease may worsen over time.
The diagnosis does not mean a gloomy and mysterious presence in your loved one’s life at all times. After a dementia diagnosis, there is still joy to be discovered. Having the appropriate medical knowledge can help you assist or a or a loved one make future plans, selecting palliative care alternatives, and pursuing the best treatment.
That’s why it’s critical to get the most out of your discussions with your loved one’s doctor. Beyond what may be found in brochures or learned from a support group, a caretaker’s primary resource might be the doctor & other healthcare professionals who directly understand their condition.
Questions to Ask Doctor After Dementia & Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
Below is a set of questions you might want to carry along to your next appointment with your doctor to ensure you have all the information you need:
Is it Alzheimer’s Disease or Another Dementia?
People might suffer from a variety of cognitive declines. Dementia is a universal term for memory and mental ability decline. Although Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for the majority of dementia occurrences, several other dementias can also influence cognition. For example, frontotemporal dementia affects behavior before memory, but primary progressive aphasia impacts speech and language.
In fact, even though the indications of different dementias sometimes overlap, a doctor may still not know a loved one’s particular dementia diagnosis. Initially, making an accurate diagnosis could be difficult or even impossible.
Even though most dementias are chronic and incurable, there are a few medical diseases that may be treated but mimic dementia. For example, most of the same manifestations can be caused by severe depression. Therefore, don’t always assume that personality changes or memory loss indicate dementia or that the disease is incurable. Instead, as soon as possible, get medical assistance.
What Stage Has Dementia Reached?
It’s critical to know what your loved one may expect in the time to come if you’ve received an accurate diagnosis. Is this dementia classified into stages? What stage does a loved one’s doctor feel dementia has progressed to? What brought them to these conclusions? Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to foresee how dementia will progress.
You need to know what to expect to figure out your next moves, for example, such as if you are able to provide the amount of assistance they need at home or if you want to explore other possibilties such as long term care, assisted living or memory care. Understanding how serious the dementia is, can help you prepare ahead and anticipate future needs. can help you prepare ahead and anticipate future needs.
You should also ask the diagnosing physician if you need to visit a geriatric specialist for further evaluation or care.
What Sorts of Changes and Experiences Should I Expect?
Your family’s physician can identify several difficulties that typically arise in people living with dementia. For example, the person living with dementia may experience distress or anxiety and depression, especially in the evening, in addition to disorientation. Moreover, your loved one may lose control of body processes and become susceptible to urinary tract infections on a physical level.
Patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty eating or swallowing, and alteration in in-depth perception might make them more prone to falls.
What Medicine, if Any, Do You Recommend?
Medication can help with memory issues and alertness momentarily, but it won’t stop the condition from progressing. If the dementia is mild or moderate, medications such as donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), or galantamine (Reminyl) may be used, as well as memantine (Namenda) if the dementia is moderate to severe.
Medication to treat heart issues can help individuals with vascular dementia slow the progression of their cognitive impairment. Inquire about any potential side effects and any negative responses to any medications, herbal treatments, or vitamins your love one is now using.
Is My Loved one Conscious of the Situation?
About half of dementia patients are unaware of their disease. They are unaware of their cognitive abilities because of how dementia affects the different parts of their brain. When family members try to impose the truth of the situation on the individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can lead to arguments.
Some individuals spend time attempting to tell the person living with dementia that they have a loss of memory rather than just moving on and developing non-confrontational approaches to interacting with the individual, which will lead to more cordial relationships.
It is critical for family members to understand that Alzheimer’s or dementia individuals are unable to gain new knowledge and skills.
What Alternative Treatments Could be Beneficial?
Even though there’s no cure for most types of dementia, several supportive treatment options may help. The need for nutritional and emotional assistance cannot be overstated. In addition, counseling or psychotherapy can help someone cope with dementia while also reducing despair and anxiety.
Exercise may also help decrease the onset of poor thinking, and occupational therapy can help with addressing quality of life as their disease progresses.
What Should I know as a Caregiver?
There is a lot that caregivers are expected to do for loved ones with dementia that it would take a different essay to cover. However, it’s critical to inquire early on about what you will need as the caretaker when your loved one’s dementia advances.
Check with your doctor about local options that might help you as a caregiver. While you’ll be focused on providing for your loved one, don’t forget to look after yourself and don’t take things personally.
People might become confrontational or experience behavioral changes when they are having a difficult day, confused, or terrified. It’s necessary to keep in mind that it’s the brain changes that are happening not the person. Seeking support from a support group of all other caregivers may be quite beneficial when coping with this element of caring for a person living with dementia.
What Are the Potential Adverse Impacts of the Medication they’re Taking?
If your loved one’s been prescribed medication, the potential adverse effects were most likely explained when it was originally administered. However, once the individual has been taking the drug for a while, you would have had ample opportunity to monitor their actions and reactions to the treatment.
It’s a good idea to ask this question on a regular basis to either check that the behaviors are expected side effects or to notify the doctor of anything that might or shouldn’t be a side effect.
Is it Still Possible to Live at Home?
You should also determine whether it is still secure for your loved one to live alone at home. If that’s the case, contact your doctor regarding a possible order for Occupational Therapy to further assess the home environment to see about how you may make your house more senior-friendly. Unfortunately, because dementia is progressive and degenerative, those living with dementia will ultimately require full-time care as dementia progresses into the later stages.
Do you Have any Clinical Trials that you Recommend?
This point might not come up right away, but it’s worth asking after trying other meds. A clinical study may be worth exploring if your loved one has severe or unpleasant side effects from their drug or if you aren’t getting the expected outcomes. Then, based on your loved one’s condition and overall health, the doctor may be able to provide some recommendations.
A dementia diagnosis would allow the patient and family to prepare for decline of the person’s cognitive ability. In addition, the doctor will be able to assist the patients and caregivers with both the medical and psychological components of the condition.
If you or a family member has memory problems, consult a doctor immediately for an evaluation. Other curable medical disorders can also produce dementia symptoms, so it’s crucial to determine what’s causing them.
The doctor of your loved one is a valuable resource. If you’re not sure about anything, keep asking questions until you get there.
Caring for someone with dementia is a difficult job that requires constant dedication. Because this is a marathon and not a sprint, you should start taking care of yourself.
Friends and family can assist you. Make self-care a priority and accept assistance when it comes along.
Seek medical advice if you’re experiencing symptoms of caregiver anxiety or depression. These are curable diseases, and the correct assistance can help you maintain the energy required for caregiving.