If your parent has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s a confusing time for your family. One important item to add to your to-do list is to plan to have a talk with your parent’s doctor about their condition. Below are four important questions you’ll want to make sure you include.
Keep in mind that in order to have this conversation, your parent will need to let the doctor’s office know that you have permission to discuss their health matters.
1. Why have you chosen a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, rather than another disease?
This question will help you better understand your parent’s illness. It can also be valuable in cases where family members or your parent wants to deny that they have the disease. Find out what signs demonstrate to the doctor that this is Alzheimer’s and not another disease or another form of dementia. You’ll also want to ask how your parent’s symptoms differ from the normal forgetfulness and confusion that can come with aging.
2. What medication is available that might help?
Prescription medication is available that can help slow the progress of the disease or alleviate symptoms. However, not all patients respond to these aids, and the doctor may not think any of them are appropriate for your parent’s particular situation. Also know that at this point there is nothing that can be done to reverse the progress of the disease or to cure your parent.
If the doctor does recommend medication, ask how it works and how it treats particular symptoms. Also make sure you understand the side effects, and what to do if your parent takes the medicine incorrectly or misses a dose. The doctor may be able to offer suggestions about how to make it easier for your parent to keep track of their drug regimine.
If you or your parent is thinking about trying herbal remedies, be sure to include these in the conversation as well. The doctor may be able to share information with you that you haven’t previously considered, such as the latest research. He or she can also let you know if herbal remedies would be wise for your parent’s individual situation. For example, there may be harmful interactions with the medicine your parent is currently taking.
3. Are there clinical trials we can participate in?
By participating in research studies on new treatments, your parent may be able to receive cutting-edge care for free. However, these arrangements are not without risks. Your parent’s doctor can help you determine whether volunteering in clinical trials would be a good idea.
4. How can I reach you if I need you?
This may be the first time you’ve had any conversation with your parent’s doctor. Make sure you know the office’s procedures for getting in touch with the doctor. Does he or she take questions over email? What should you do if your parent is having a medical emergency and the office is closed? Having the answers to these questions can ease your mind greatly and help you prepare for the unexpected.