This month I’m writing about doctors and your loved one with dementia. Specifically, I’m giving you 3 reasons why you
want to should go with your loved one with dementia to see the doctor.
Let me throw this out right off the bat. I am not a doctor or a medical professional. I was a caregiver of a parent who went down the Alzheimer’s journey, so I’m just passing on some suggestions so that you are better prepared.
In fact, this blog post topic is one of the items I included on my free list, 19 Suggestions to Start Today! These are suggestions that I am passing on to those of you that may be just finding out that your parent or loved one has the beginnings of memory loss. You can find the other 18 suggestions here.
The very, very first task you want to do when you go with your loved one to the doctor is to make sure your loved one (or parent, as in my case) lists you on the HIPAA form. That establishes your loved one’s approval to let the doctor’s office release private information about the patient to you.
3 reasons to accompany your loved one to the doctor
There are more but I’ve narrowed it down to 3 good reasons why you should go along on the doctor visit.
Support, Advocacy & Note Taking
The first is that you are there for support, advocacy, and to take notes.
Not only are you supporting your loved one perhaps by being their transportation to the appointments, but you are there to provide supporting information if needed. There were times when I gave the doctor truthful information when Mom wouldn’t or didn’t because she couldn’t remember.
If your parent sees multiple doctors for different issues such as heart and kidney problems, then you want to be sure to take notes and relay information to the other doctors if necessary. I had to make sure that blood and urine testing results were sent to all the doctors.
You take notes on the medications – what they are for, when to take them, what side effects they might have, and whether or not you need a new script from the doc.
After the doctor did his usual routine of questions for Mom, such as asking what day it was, what season, who the president was and something from current events, and his regular exam of Mom, he would then turn to me and ask for anything I wanted to add. Here was my time to give him information on what I noticed about Mom.
You may advocate for other lines of treatment, medication, or referrals to other doctors.
This includes face to face contact with the doctor as well as email or phone contact.
There may be times when you need to talk with or email the doctor before or after the appointment.
Chances are driving will become an issue. Here’s where you might enlist the doc for help as I did with my mom. He casually brought up the fact that it was probably time for Mom to stop driving. By the time my brothers and I sat down with her and told her that we were afraid of her continuing to drive, she wasn’t happy but she didn’t give us any flack about it.
Medication List Keeper
The third reason is about medication. If your parent is anything like Mom was, there were quite a few meds to keep track of. It’s good to know what the medication is used for and how it affects your loved one.
This is where you want to mention any changes in behavior that you might be noticing. Such as increasing incidences of hallucinations or trouble sleeping at night, decreased appetite, weight loss, frequent urinating, bedwetting, mood swings.
caregiver = jack of all trades
As a caregiver for a loved one with dementia you are more or less a jack of all trades. You fulfill many roles, a few of which include – a combination personal assistant/secretary/chauffeur.
Keep this in mind – you often have to be the voice for your loved one.
So when your parent or loved one has a medical or health-related appointment plan to go along with them to the doctor for that appointment.