How to Communicate with the Medical Team of a Parent Diagnosed with Dementia

If you have a parent diagnosed with dementia, it can be a challenge to find a clear path in supporting their physical and mental well-being. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are the foundation of the team caring for your loved one which is why communication with these providers is critical.parent diagnosed with dementia

Communication with Healthcare Providers

Here are a few tips to maximize communication with you parent’s healthcare providers:

  • In-Person Visits: Before COVID-19, in-person visits were the most commong type of visit to a healthcare provider. Many physicians have resumed in-person visits with the lifting of restrictions in San Diego County. You will need to talk with you parent’s care provider to determine if an in-person visit is needed and safe given your parent’s particular health situation. If not, telehealth may be a viable option.

 

Whether in person or via telemedicine, regular appointments are needed to discuss the progression of the disease and proactively address health changes that are occurring. Be prepared for these visits by making note of recent changes in your parent’s behavior, cognition, sleep, appetite, and/or mood. Bringing this documentation to the appointment makes it easy to provide clear information to the doctor. Because some people with dementia lack insight into their own limitations, or may be wary of others talking about them, you may wish to e-mail or fax the physician ahead of the appointment to share any sensitive information.

 

  • Asking Questions in Between Visits: People with dementia experience different symptoms over time, which is why you shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions as they arise. Proactively addressing concerns is the key to avoiding crises that can lead to injury and even hospitalization. Your physician may suggest that you attend a support group for family caregivers, in person or virtually, to learn how other family caregivers manage their loved ones’ care and take time for self-care.

 

  • Discuss Available Treatments: Every person is unique, and treatment options vary depending on the type of dementia your parent has been diagnosed with. Be sure to talk to your parent’s doctor about all options for treatment and care that are relevant to their situation. These may include different behavioral strategies to calm your parent, or medication that may help slow the progression of the disease. Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion or tap into the services from other dementia-care experts like social workers, care managers, occupational therapists and physical therapists.

 

Resources for a Parent Diagnosed with Dementia

One of the best solutions for maintaining open communication is to hire the services of an advocate. A Geriatric Care Manager or Aging Life Care Manager can act as an advocate, communicating directly with healthcare providers, or as a coach, helping you be the best advocate you can be. At Windward Life Care, we understand the unique challenges family caregivers face being responsible for a loved one with dementia. Our team is here to offer the support you need. Contact us to learn more about available services.