The Best Time to Go

Encouraging a reluctant loved one to see a doctor

By the time you've made an appointment, you've probably had some time to think about what you want to discuss with the doctor. Hopefully, you've also had some time to fill out the Symptom Diary and Dementia Symptoms Checklist.

No matter how prepared you may be, you may find that bringing up the subject with someone you care about is met with reluctance or denial. Someone who thinks they are seeing the signs of Alzheimer's disease in themselves may fear what they will hear if they visit the doctor. Whatever the case may be, here are some things you could try, to encourage someone you care about to visit their doctor:

  • Suggest that they have a regular check-up. He or she may be more comfortable getting an overall check-up than seeing the doctor to discuss the possibility of Alzheimer's disease. What's more, many symptoms of the disease can be caused by other, treatable conditions, so a thorough assessment of his or her health is always advisable.

  • Contact the doctor's office directly. Explain your concerns and see if the doctor will invite your loved one in for a check-up. He or she might be more willing to agree if the doctor suggests the appointment.

  • Focus on the benefits. If you worry that you are seeing the signs in yourself, remember that you will be better off addressing them sooner, rather than later. You may find out that the mild forgetfulness you've been experiencing is just a part of normal ageing, or that it is due to a controllable problem such as a medication you've been taking. And if it turns out that the cause is more serious or may be Alzheimer's disease, it will allow you more time to receive the treatment that is necessary.

Preparing for the appointment

The following list of suggestions can help you prepare yourself – and the person you care about – for the doctor's appointment.

  • Don't wait until the next check-up. If you're noticing unusual behaviours, it's best to schedule an appointment to talk about it now.

  • Book an appointment specifically to discuss Alzheimer's disease. This will guarantee that you have enough time to gather all the information you need, and ask all pertinent questions.

  • Schedule the appointment for the time of day when the person close to you is at their best to get the most out of the time spent with the doctor.

  • Talk about the issues with the person you care about before the appointment so that once you are with the doctor, you are both clear on what you want to communicate. You may also want to spend some time speaking to other members of your family to see what they have noticed in your loved one.

  • Complete the Symptom Diary found on this website and bring it along for discussion.

Responses to the Dementia Symptoms Checklists do not determine a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease – they may simply suggest the need for further assessment.

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