When someone is diagnosed with dementia, their GP and local Memory Service are likely to be the main sources of information and support.
To make sure you get the best from these appointments, it’s a good idea to note down the questions you want to ask.
These will vary depending on things such as whether it’s the person’s first appointment with the professional; they have new symptoms; they are starting a new treatment; or they need additional tests and investigations, but may include:
What type of dementia does the person have?
What symptoms/changes in behaviour might you expect?
Who will be the person’s main healthcare professional?
How often will they see them?
Who else will be involved in their care?
Questions about tests, including blood tests and scans
What are the tests for?
How should you book the tests?
Does the person with dementia need to do anything to prepare?
How and when will you get the results?
Who should you contact if you don’t receive the results?
Questions about medication and other treatments
Are there any medications for this type of dementia?
Are there any side effects or risks?
How effective is the treatment?
How should the medication be taken (eg at a set time every day, or with a meal)?
Is there anything the person should not do (eg drinking alcohol, driving)?
How long will the person have to take it for?
How will you know if it’s working?
Is there anything else that might help – eg eating healthily, taking exercise, seeing a therapist, joining a support group?
Questions about what happens next
Is there any written information you can take away?
Where can you look for more information on dementia?
Does the person need a follow-up appointment? If so, when?
Will the person be referred to any other health or social care professionals, such as a social worker or occupational therapist?
What should you do if the person’s condition gets worse?
Are there any support groups or services for you and/or the person with dementia?
Health appointments are often short – especially GP appointments – so it’s helpful to make a note of the main points you want to discuss.
If there are more than two or three things, you could ask to book a double appointment.
You might want to bring a family member or friend with you for support – especially if you are the person with the dementia diagnosis, or if you need an interpreter (including a British Sign Language interpreter).
They can help explain what you want to get out of the appointment, make notes, and remind you of anything you don’t remember afterwards.
You can also make notes yourself or record the appointment on your phone – but do tell the health professional you are doing this.
If there is anything you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask the GP or healthcare professional to repeat what they have said, or explain it more clearly.
Before you leave, check that you’ve asked everything on your list, and that you know what should happen next, and when.
If there’s anything you still don’t understand – such as the name of a medication and how it works – and you’ve run out of time, ask the professional to write it down for you so you can look it up at home.
Our dementia specialist Admiral Nurses can advise you on getting the most from your health appointments or any other aspect of dementia. Please call our free Helpline on 0800 888 6678 (Monday-Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you prefer, you can pre-book a phone or video appointment with an Admiral Nurse here.