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Ask the Expert: Scared of job loss from diagnosis

Ask the Expert: Scared of job loss from diagnosis


Romina advises a woman whose middle-aged husband is showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but who is delaying the trip to the doctor: What impact will a diagnosis have?

Question: My husband is showing many signs at age 52. I am scared to take him for a diagnosis for many reasons. I think he will give up and think “What’s the use?” Also, he needs to keep working, not only for money but also for health insurance and his own sense of well-being. He simply doesn’t know how not to work. I also work full-time. I need to start getting paperwork in order. Suggestions much appreciated.

A. Thank you for your question. Your fears are valid.

It was recently reported that, along with cancer and heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementias are among the most-feared medical conditions.

Knowing what we know of Alzheimer’s, it’s only normal that, when it comes to seeking a diagnosis, many pose themselves the question: “Would I want to know?”

Your husband’s reluctance in getting a formal diagnosis may stem from his apprehension of having to forsake his role as provider. Many individuals who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia continue to be employed – although there will be a need for modifications as the condition progresses.

Would I want to know?

As you’re a resident of the United States, I can empathize with the added stress of medical costs you may incur. Again, an early diagnosis will give you time to plan ahead and look into health care coverage, employee or retirement benefits, government assistance, or possibly community support networks that can offer free or low-cost services.

If you and your husband are both hesitant of moving forward with a doctor visit, think of it this way: Would you think of leaving the household finances to chance? You’re far too responsible to do so and know the consequences; it’s likely you have a mutually-decided upon strategy in place when dealing with matters of the home.

Why would matters of health be any different? It may not be dementia at all…

Primary reason to go to a doctor ASAP

I want to stress that the primary reason for your husband to see a neurologist or doctor right away is that there could be a different medical reason altogether causing the memory loss and confusion.

Other health issues  can present themselves as dementia. These include diabetes, heart failure, depression, urinary tract infections, thyroid disorders, and possibly reactions to medications he may be taking.

Ruling these out, and treating them, should be the first step. …

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Romina Oliverio

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