I cannot remember names or where I left the keys, people say I repeat myself and often seem confused. I must have dementia. It’s easy to leap to conclusions but considerably more difficult to speak to your doctor about your concerns. You fear stepping into your doctor’s office all but guarantees a diagnosis of dementia. However, a thorough medical exam may uncover other reasons, such as a bladder infection or medications that can explain why you are sometimes forgetful or confused.
Again, don’t jump to conclusions if your doctor suggests that you undergo further tests. Pause, take a deep breath and tell yourself that ruling out dementia is not as easy as you may have assumed. At this point, your doctor may suggest that you get a second opinion from another physician or other kinds of healthcare professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating memory disorders. And remember, you don’t need your doctor’s permission to seek advice from other clinicians. A good doctor will welcome your efforts. Without question, what you are doing for yourself is scary. No, it’s worse than scary. It’s deep-down frightening.
Take a deep breath. You don’t have to do this alone. A family member or a good friend can give the emotional support you need and, with your permission, can accompany you to your doctor appointments. In addition to the comfort of his or her presence, your family member or friend can be another set of ears (or your note taker) as you, in all probability, will be overwhelmed by a deluge of information.
Sometimes the news isn’t good. But before you occupy a permanent seat on the couch and wait for the inevitable, take a moment and take a deep breath. There are medications, as well as participation in activities such as dancing, yoga, and tai chi, that can slow the progression of dementia. Keep in mind, there is a lot of good living ahead of you. Indulge, be active, do what gives you pleasure, and have good times with family and friends. Cherish the little things that enrich your life as well as the lives of others. This is a time to create memories.
Janet Yagoda Shagam, Ph.D., is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available on Amazon.
The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, or other forms of the content contained within blog posts- that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice, please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org