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New doctor new state
Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 3:32 PM
Joined: 2/6/2018
Posts: 14

Mom just came to stay with me.  I finally have a doctor appointment set up.  Its just a standard primary internal doctor that her Medicare referred me to. Mom definitely has some type of dementia/Alzheimer going on.  Up till staying with me it went undiagnosed as she swears she is fine and nothing wrong.  Among a variety of other health issues I will discuss, how/what do I ask for?  After reviewing others posts, I'm worried we will walk out of this appointment without any progress for her dementia/Alzheimer's.
Eric L
Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 5:19 PM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 816

I've typed this many times, so I'll keep it brief. After getting lost a couple of times and fouling up her finances (thank goodness she paid the mortgage too much), my MIL was at a point where no one could deny anything was wrong. We decided to write a letter to her PCP outlining all of things that we had noticed recently that we thought were dementia related and why were concerned (like with the finances, she probably knew her account balance off the top of her head for most of her life). Obviously, getting lost was a huge red flag, too. There were several other things that had happened in the months leading up to time that we wrote the letter that concerned us and all of it was noted.

My wife called the doctor's office and let them know that were dropping off a note for the doctor to read before her next appointment. He read the letter, did basic testing, and referred her to a neurologist. Little did we know that she had been complaining to him about having memory problems for several months prior. She was actually happy that we wrote the letter because the doctor finally took her seriously. Of course, this was very early on in the process and she was very well aware that she was having issues.
MN Chickadee
Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 5:22 PM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 667

I would write up a list of symptoms, behavior, and concerns and send it to the doctor ahead of time and also take a copy with you day of. List the things or behaviors that have you convinced there is a dementia problem and ask him or her to refer her to a neurologist for further testing to see what is going on. There are some primary care docs who will try to diagnose or act on their own and do some trial and error with meds but I would insist on a neuro. They can provide the most accurate diagnosis and therefore a proper treatment plan. She may be able to have the internist be the go-to provider after a diagnosis. 
It is common for people to not realize they have a memory problem. If you look through some other posts you will probably encounter posts by Iris explaining anosognosia. You will need to find work arounds to get her proper medical diagnosis and care.
Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 6:32 PM
Joined: 2/6/2018
Posts: 4

Definitely do what the other 2 posts said.  Send a list to the dr office in advance.  Also when you get to the dr office ask the person who checks you in if you can talk to the dr alone before your mom goes in.  You'll have to be sneaky about it so that your mom doesn't know.  Maybe your wife can go too and distract your mom while you "go to the bathroom" but really going to talk to the dr.  I am only saying this because your mom may get upset if you discuss dementia in front of her.  The dr should know to be discreet when she comes into the room.  He'll probably do a general questioning test to see where she stands but you must get a referral to a good neurologist.  Don't let him tell you it's a part of normal aging.  I got that for almost two years from my mom's dr's.  It took two years for me to find a dr that could see what I was seeing. 

Once you get in with a neurologist they will order a brain scan on your mom and do some other testing.  They can then prescribe medications to slow down the disease and there are some to keep her calm too.  The sooner she gets on to some meds the better.  There aren't any cures but only meds to slow down the progress. 

 You will learn with this disease that you have to take the reigns and be very creative at getting things done while not getting your mom upset.  It's not easy but it can be done.  I promise.  Get used to telling fibs.  They are out of love.    

Iris L.
Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 8:21 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 15641

omnizero123 wrote:
  Up till staying with me it went undiagnosed as she swears she is fine and nothing wrong.  


Omnizero, this is the definition of anosognosia, one of the characteristics of the dementias.  Your mom is unaware of having dementia and her limitations.  This is not denial, this is part of the pathology of the brain disease, and it is very common.  This article will explain more about anosognosia. 

Iris L.

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