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Working with Your Loved One’s Health Care Providers

Providing the best care for your loved one living with dementia requires a partnership between yourself, other caregivers and your loved one’s health care providers. As your schedule fills up with appointments, here are some helpful pointers to make visiting the doctor as stress-free as possible for both you and your loved one.

Plan Ahead. Take time prior to the appointment to write down any questions or concerns you or your loved one may have for the doctor. Bring this list with you to the appointment so you’ll be sure to get all the information you need.

Keep Detailed Notes. It can be helpful to keep a daily journal of sorts, in which you can write any notes about changes in behavior, routines, eating or sleeping habits. Be specific in your notes, writing when it happens, how often and anything you may have noticed that triggered the changes. Share these notes with the doctor at your loved one’s next appointment.

Bring a List of All Medications. It isn’t uncommon for someone with dementia or memory loss to be under the care of more than one doctor and receiving medications or treatment for multiple health conditions. For this reason, it is important to keep a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications, including vitamins and supplements. Be sure to include dosages. Bring this list to every doctor’s appointment.

Ask Questions. In addition to sharing the list of questions you prepared ahead of time, if you don’t understand something, as for clarification until you do understand. Don’t be afraid to share your opinion and never hesitate to call the doctor to ask further questions that may come up after the appointment.

Discuss Treatment Goals. What are the current treatment goals for your loved one? How are they working? Do medications or dosages need to be adjusted? As dementia progresses, the treatment plan for your loved one will change. Know your treatment options and keep an open dialogue with the doctor about when treatment or care for your loved one may need to be adjusted. You should leave each appointment with a clear plan for how to move forward, noting any changes and follow-up steps that may be required.

Keep Good Records. Following each appointment, update your loved one’s records with any changes to the treatment plan, including changes in medications or dosages. File test results and care plans so the information is easily accessible in the case of an emergency. There are online tools you can use to help manage personal health records. Learn more here.

Remember you are not alone in caring for your loved one. Ensure your love one is receiving the best care possible by partnering with his or her health care providers. Support groups provide an excellent resource for family members and caregivers of those living with dementia. Check out one of our support groups for additional tips and advice on caring for your loved one.