What the Doctor Needs to Know

Before seeing the doctor, it's a good idea to try to anticipate what will take place at the appointment. That way everyone will not only be mentally and physically prepared, but you'll also be making it easier for the doctor to help.

What to bring with you

  • A list of symptoms, when they began and how frequently they occur, documented in a journal or the Symptom Diary
  • A printout of your completed Dementia Symptoms Checklist as well as the accompanying letter for the doctor
  • A list of the individual's past and present medical problems
  • A list of medications, herbal remedies and dietary supplements that he or she is currently taking, including ‘natural' products and alternative medicines
  • A pen and paper for taking notes
  • A list of questions you may have regarding the symptoms you've observed

At the appointment

  • Be honest and direct

    If the doctor explains something and it sounds different from what you've observed in the family member you're concerned about, re-explain what you've been seeing.

  • Ask what you can expect during this appointment

    Ask the doctor to explain to both you and the person close to you what will take place during the appointment, and ask him or her what he or she needs to know from you.

  • Be upfront

    Don't keep quiet about your concerns. The more forthright you are, the easier it will be for the doctor to help.

  • Request a second appointment

    If, at the end of the appointment, you feel like you still have unanswered questions, tell the doctor, and ask him or her for another appointment to discuss the issues further.

  • Always ask questions

    This is your chance to get many of your questions answered, so use it wisely. Never be afraid to say that you don't understand, or to ask the doctor to repeat an explanation.

  • Bring up all issues

    If you feel that there are other issues (depression, anxiety, etc.), address them with the doctor so that he or she can make suggestions and offer advice.

  • Make sure you understand

    Always record instructions for medication, and repeat them back to the doctor to ensure that they are correct.

  • Don't be intimidated

    Doctors are people, too, and they want to help. To accomplish this, they need you to be assertive and truthful, and to provide as much information, in as much detail, as you can.

  • Understand the next steps

    Make sure you're clear on how to proceed – does the doctor want you to bring your family member you're concerned about back in for more tests? Will you be completing the Symptom Diary over the next little while?

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.