As you know, caring for a mom or dad with dementia is a challenging journey with many twists and turns. There are days when you may feel you are not doing as much as you think you should. And, there are probably moments when you wish you had found out more about a certain medication or other issue before you left the doctor’s office.
Having a doctor who is a true partner and whom you trust, can be an immense help on that challenging journey. Doctors, however, have other patients to serve as well. You are but one of many, so you need to make the most of the time you have.
Here are some key questions to ask during doctor visits with your mom or dad. Often, in a rush to get through the appointment, they can slip through the cracks:
- What stage of dementia is my mom/dad experiencing now?
- What should I be prepared for during this stage?
- What are our goals for this stage and what are the treatment options?
- Which option do you think best fills her needs and why?
- What does each medication do? How long before each takes effect?
- How do these medications interact with others, such as blood pressure, etc.?
- Are there any side effects we should look out for? What should we do if one occurs?
- How long before you anticipate a change in medications?
- How can we reach you if there is a problem?
- Plus, any other questions you may have that are more specific to your parent’s unique situation.
Above all, be prepared. Make sure you jot down your questions and concerns in advance. This will save time and give you more quality time with the doctor to get the questions answered completely. Listen carefully and take notes. You may even want to take a small recorder with you and ask if you can record his or her responses. These visits can be stressful. Having a recording of what was said can be a lifesaver later on, should you forget something or not understand your own notes! Furthermore, you can share the recording with another family member who needs to know as well.
The better prepared you are, the calmer you will be during these visits. The truth is, that if you treat your loved one’s doctor as a trusted partner, he or she will be more responsive and take more time with you. This will make a big difference in your relationship with your doctor and help you feel better able to care for your loved one.