If you’re starting to ask yourself this question, then the answer is simple: Yes.
When a loved one’s forgetfulness or confusion becomes obvious, it’s time for a complete examination by a physician. This is the best way to determine whether the symptoms are temporary – perhaps caused by depression, poor nutrition, drug intoxication or interaction, alcohol, or organ dysfunction – or if they’re permanent, and caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s.
We’re talking about a complete work-up here – physical exam, medical history, neurological testing, lab tests, brain imaging, and function tests.
If your loved one has never been evaluated, it’s best to see a neurologist or geriatrician. If, on the other hand, he’s already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you should see a geriatric psychiatrist, who can look for signs of depression, agitation, or behavioral issues.
If you don’t know where to look for a doctor, check a physicians’ referral service. And if you participate in caregiver support meetings, ask the other participants.
A word of warning – Don’t Settle! If you’re not comfortable with a physician…find a new one! You’ll be working closely with this person the rest of your loved one’s life. And you need someone you trust…someone with whom you feel comfortable!
Once you have a diagnosis, make sure the primary physician is kept in the loop; after all, she’s still the one you’ll be seeing for general check-ups and regular health issues.
The best doctors in this field are the ones who realize that Alzheimer’s is a family illness…and that the caregiver must be carefully monitored, as well, for signs of stress or depression.
This is a very stressful time for the entire family. And, for many families, a very confusing time. But you don’t have to go through this process alone. Help is available.
At the Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we’re Elder Law attorneys. And, over the past 33 years, we’ve walked thousands of South Florida families through the Elder Care Maze, with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, asset-protection planning, long-term care planning, issues with Medicaid or the VA, and, of course, Alzheimer’s/dementia questions. And we’ve done it with professionalism, compassion, and, when needed, a soft shoulder.
You don’t have to make this journey alone. We’re just a phone call away.