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Talking to Your Doctor About Alzheimer Disease

You have a unique medical history. It is important to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with Alzheimer disease. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask. They may also be able to provide helpful information to the doctor.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer Disease

  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for Alzheimer disease?
  • What are the first signs and symptoms of Alzheimer disease?

About a Diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease

  • What does the diagnosis mean?
  • Are additional tests needed?
  • How certain is this diagnosis?
  • How long does it take for more severe symptoms to show up?

About Treatment Options

  • What can be done to alleviate symptoms?
  • Which medications are best for my condition?
    • What does this medication do? Does it alleviate symptoms, slow progression of the disease, etc?
    • What benefits/side effects will I experience with this medication?
    • Will this medication interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
    • Are there any clinical trials that I might be able to participate in?
  • Are there any complementary or alternative therapies that may help me?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What plans should my family and I be making right now regarding:
    • Provisions for future healthcare
    • Finances
    • Legal issues
    • Living situation
  • How long will I safely be able to drive, work, or live alone?

About Your Outlook

  • What changes in mental capacity can be expected over time?
  • What changes in behavior and functioning should my family and I expect over time?
  • How long will it be before family and friends can no longer provide the necessary care?
  • Are there any resources available for my family and friends here at this institution?
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References:

Alzheimer dementia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114193/Alzheimer-dementia. Updated August 21, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Alzheimer's disease medications fact sheet. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-medications-fact-sheet. Updated May 18, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/17/2014

 

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