Was your loved one recently diagnosed with dementia? It can take months to see a neurologist, so you want to make the most of each appointment. We recommend bringing a list of questions to help you stay on track and get the information you need. Here are a few to get you started.
How Was the Diagnosis Made?
It’s helpful to know how the diagnosis of dementia came to be. There are a number of tests that doctors use to make the diagnosis, including a physical and neurological exam, brain imaging, blood tests and mental status and mood testing. Some of these tests are used to rule out conditions, while others are used to measure cognitive function. Ask about the scores on these tests.
What Kind of Dementia is This?
It’s never easy to hear that a loved one has Alzheimer’s, but knowing what to expect can help you prepare for the future. For example, you can start looking at caregivers, in-home nurses and assisted living facilities. Although Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, there are other causes, too. It’s possible your loved one could have Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia or Lewy body dementia.
What Stage is the Dementia In?
There are different models of dementia, but many neurologists use the seven-stage model. Talk to the doctor about which stage your parent is in and what you can expect over the next stages. Remember, the stages vary depending on the cause of the dementia. For instance, the stages of vascular dementia tend to remain stable for many years and then quickly progress. The stages of Alzheimer’s are more progressive and predictable.
Are there Medications that Could be Helpful?
Again, the type of medications used to treat dementia symptoms are dependent on the root cause. For those with Alzheimer’s disease, only a few medications have been approved by the FDA, including Aricept and Exelon. These medications do not cure dementia, and they do not work for everyone. However, they may be helpful for your loved one based on their symptoms and overall health. Also, discuss non-drug approaches such as exercise, diet, social interaction and mental activities.
Is Living at Home Safe?
It’s possible that your parent cannot safely live on their own anymore. If Mom or Dad isn’t ready to move to an assisted living facility, there are other options. Hiring a private duty nurse is an economical and effective way to ensure your parent’s health, happiness and safety. You can also make safety improvements to your parent’s home and invest in a senior alert button.
Don’t forget to check out the resources and support groups available in your community. Many communities have resources for those living with dementia and their families.