Getting a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia to the doctors can be a frustrating event. Most individuals with memory loss will visit a trusting doctor willingly, with a little extra planning and effort on the caregiver’s part, however; if paranoia, delusional thinking, anxiety, depression or anger are present, then this can make a visit become an impossibility. With a little extra planning in advance, appointments can go more smoothly.
Plan and Prevent
- Plan the appointment around the person’s best time of day. Also, call ahead and ask the office what time of day is least crowded.
- Let the office staff know in advance that the person may be confused because of Alzheimer’s disease. Talk with the doctor, or other staff, about your concerns for the visit and ask them for help to make the visit go smoothly.
- Wait to tell the person about the appointment until the day of, or even shortly before leaving. Be positive and matter-of-fact.
- Plan to bring distractions, such as food, beverages, reading materials or activities he/she loves to do.
- Give your loved one only information that they can handle. Do not go into great detail or explanations, as this could trigger an argument.
- Limit the amount of information the person needs to remember. Take a summary of the person’s medical history, primary care doctor, and current medications.
- Bring a friend or another family member along, that way someone can be with the person, while the other talks with the doctor. An extra set of hands will help the trip go smoothly.
If your loved one is experiencing abnormal levels of suspiciousness, anger, anxiety, sadness or fear and you are not able to get them to the appointment, call the doctor and explain. They should be able to make arrangements for help. In addition, make sure to have instructions on what to do if the person needs immediate medical attention and what the options are outside of office hours. A little planning and prevention in advance will help to make doctors’ visits go smoothly.