Receiving a diagnosis of dementia, for either yourself or a loved one, can come as a shock. Hearing this news can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the future. But as with most situations in life, learning all that you can about the condition can help you feel more confident and capable about managing it.
The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, at the University of California at Los Angeles, put together this list of questions that you should ask your doctor when discussing dementia. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed, these questions can provide you with a roadmap for identifying resources and learning how to manage the condition.
- What type of dementia do I/does my loved one have?
- What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
- What caused my/my loved one’s dementia?
- What is the likely course of decline? How long do I have/does my loved one have?
- What symptoms, other than memory loss, can I expect, and what will the pace of decline be?
- What can I do to slow the decline? (What medicines are effective and what results can I expect from them? What lifestyle changes will be helpful?)
- What about advertised supplements and programs that claim to cure Alzheimer’s disease?
- Where can I go to learn more about dementia?
- What help is available to guide me/my loved one through my illness?
- If I have a problem that might be related to dementia, whom should I call?
- What plans should I make now to prepare for a time when I or my loved one can be less engaged in making decisions?
- How should I select a family or friend caregiver?
- What are reasonable goals for me/my loved one now and in the future?
- How can I preserve what matters to me/my loved one?
- As the disease progresses, will I/my loved one suffer?
- I’m afraid of becoming dependent and a burden. Will that happen?
- When will I/my loved one need to get help in the home or go to a facility?
- Should I tell people about the diagnosis?
- Should I/my loved one continue to interact with people even though they might notice that something about me/my loved one is different?
- What are the chances that my children will get dementia? Is there anything they can do to prevent getting dementia?
In addition to working closely with your doctor, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to learn more about dementia and related conditions.