Q: I think my father has Alzheimer's disease. We have our first doctor's appointment soon. What should I tell the doctor about his medical history? Should I bring anything with me?
A: The most important things to remember when speaking with a doctor concerning your relative's Alzheimer's or other dementia are to be prepared, ask questions, and gather information.
It is important that you are prepared for the visit:
Take all medications, both over-the-counter (vitamins, aspirin) and prescription, to the visit.
Bring a list of your dad's past and current medical problems. Have other family members had illnesses that caused memory problems?
Write a list of your father's symptoms: when they began, and how frequently they occur.
Ask the doctor to explain any tests and how long it will take to get a diagnosis.
If you don't understand something, ask the doctor to explain it.
Ask: What will happen to my father in the near future and over time?
Ask: Do you have any written material about Alzheimer's?
Ask: Is there anything we can change at home to make things easier or safer?
What medications are available for memory loss or behavior changes? What are the risks and benefits? What are the side effects?
Under what circumstances should we contact your office?
How do we find out about research trials?
This can be a stressful time for your dad and you. It's important that you remember what the doctor says:
Take notes during the visit, or bring a family member or friend with you.
For more information, the Alzheimer's Association holds a free monthly meeting, “Understanding Dementia” in Queens. Call 1-800-272-3900 for details.
While a doctor's care and advice are vital, other services such as speaking with a care consultant, or support groups provide much needed assistance to family members. For a list of our services and a calendar of helpful events, please visit our website www.alznyc.org or call our 24-hour helpline 1-800 272-3900. There is always a caring and informed person at the other end of the line to help you.
- The Alzheimer's Association, New York City Chapter