Anxiety. Embarrassment. Fear. The feelings associated with a potential dementia diagnosis can cause seniors to keep their suspicions to themselves. A newly released AARP survey peeled away a few of the layers of emotion to get to the root cause – namely, worry over losing independence and becoming a problem to others.
While there may be some validity to these concerns, there are also some misconceptions fueling them. For example, roughly 1/2 of the participants, who were adults age 40 and over, believed they were likely to get dementia as they grow older. The reality is that just over 10% of adults over age 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Because of this, it’s essential for older adults to communicate with their physicians for the practical, straightforward information they want – especially if they or a loved one notice any warning signs of dementia, such as the following:
- Memory decline that is disruptive to daily life
- Planning and/or problem-solving issues
- Difficulties with completing once-familiar daily tasks
- Disorientation and confusion to time and place
- Vision issues and difficulties determining color/contrast and judging distance
- Writing/speaking changes
- Losing items and leaving them in unusual spots
- A decline in judgment
- Social withdrawal
- Personality/mood changes
Below are a few suggestions to manage any reluctance in communicating with the physician about a potential dementia diagnosis and how to help make the conversation as productive as you possibly can.
- Don’t put it off. Sometimes, it feels easier to avoid bringing up something that could potentially be so life-changing. However, time is of the essence in obtaining a correct diagnosis as well as the most effective treatment.
- Bring a buddy. It’s comforting to have the support of a dependable friend, family member, or caregiver at the appointment. If at all possible, this person can offer further information to the physician as well as any concerns they have noticed from their perspective.
- Make comparisons to then and now. Share with the physician the specific changes that are causing concern. For instance, the senior may be a retired math teacher who, up until last month, did not need to think twice about balancing the checkbook, but lately is experiencing some confusion with the task.
The doctor can review prescription medications to see if any side effects are causing a problem, and then schedule assessments and tests to discover the best course of action.
Atlanta Home Care Partners’ kind and friendly caregiving companions are always readily available to provide Alzheimer’s help in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. We can accompany older adults to medical appointments and help make life more manageable in a variety of other ways as well. Contact us online, or call us at (404) 228-0103 to get more details.