Advice and explanations about dementia testing, diagnosis, medical practitioners and medications.

Doctors don’t know everything

Doctors don’t know everything

Unless you share everything.

Waiting rooms in doctor’s offices across North America are filled with family caregivers who ran a marathon to get their loved one to the appointment. The cleaning, dressing, feeding; the coaxing into the car; making it on time, or at least not late enough that the office staff cancelled the appointment.

They anxiously want to discuss changes in their loved ones’ unique dementia symptoms.

They wrote down or tried to memorize their questions, the new behaviors and health issues they are observing, and the names of the latest treatment options and medication they want an opinion on.

Finally they’re called in: “The doctor will see you now.”

Caregivers get about 13 to 16 minutes on average to get their points across.

They’ve got about 13 to 16 minutes on average. They take a deep breath, and begin: “Dad seems to be getting worse since we changed his medication.” “My wife’s dementia symptoms seem to have improved since her cold went away.” “My Mom hasn’t been the same since she went under anesthesia last month.”

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to help nurses and physicians understand what we are seeing.

Sometimes the message is lost, wrapped in feelings instead of actionable facts.

For some of us, the appointment with our loved one’s physician is over before we got to draw the maximum benefit from the interaction.

Many health care providers and family caregivers express frustration about the effectiveness of physician visits for persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Commonly cited complaints from the family’s perspective include “too little time with the doctor,” “the MD doesn’t understand what’s happening at home” and “nothing we do seems to make any difference.”

Doctors want and need those office visits to provide them with the most specific information to help them adjust treatment and care in the way that best supports each individual patient.

So what’s the secret?

Special caregiver tool: Person-Centered Symptom Tracker: NEXT

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About the author

Mara Botonis

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