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Diagnosing dementia: Preparing for an assessment

I sometimes work with people that have a family member with dementia. This is a stressful period for most people, both from an emotional perspective, and because it is difficult to learn where to find appropriate resources. Obtaining a formal diagnosis of dementia for your family member is an important first step that is required to help someone with dementia. Without this diagnosis, you can get caught in long line-ups, waiting for help.

Obtaining a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult. A good starting point is to schedule a meeting with the family member’s physician. In turn, the physician will schedule an appointment with a psychologist that works in the health care system that will make the diagnosis.

I have created a worksheet that you can download to help you with this process. The information you will record on the worksheet can help you get organized before you meet with both the physician and the psychologist.

Click on this link to download the worksheet: Preparing for a dementia diagnosis

The worksheet contains sections where you can document your family member’s relevant personal and medical history, as well as signs of dementia that you have been personally witnessing.

The documentation will help ensure that you bring the information you will need to answer questions to appointments. I anticipate you will be asked to speak about all of the topics covered in the worksheet with the physician and the psychologist.

I also anticipate that all the professionals you work with along the way will find the documentation extremely valuable.

Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta

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