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What Questions Should You Ask Your Mom's Alzheimer's Doctor?

By Amy Felman

Your mom has Alzheimer's. You handle the bulk of her elder care needs, so you're likely the one going to her memory care appointments with her. Here are questions to ask the next time she has an appointment.

What Tests Are Used to Diagnose Alzheimer's?

One thing you want to know is how they determined your mom has Alzheimer's. Specialists often order MRIs or CT scans to look at the brain. The doctor will test coordination, muscle strength, reflexes, and speech.

Cognitive tests like a Mini-Cog or Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) are often used. These tests are verbal and written and include things like memorization, telling time, recalling personal information, and drawing/writing.

How Do You Track Her Progression?

Memory care doctors may want to see your mom twice a year. During these exams, your mom will complete a screening to see if her cognitive function has declined. The doctor may also leave time to address your questions without your mom in the room. Finally, everyone gathers together to discuss appointment results and address questions or concerns.

Is There Anything That Can Be Done to Slow the Progression?

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, but there are medications that will help with the symptoms. These medications can't stop the disease, but you'll find they help ease agitation. Your mom's doctor may pair Alzheimer's medications with an antidepressant to help with symptoms of depression and sundowning.

When Should Home Elder Care Services Be Arranged?

In the first stages, your mom may not need home care services. Her doctor will keep you updated on what she's experiencing now and what to expect in the future. However, it can be beneficial to begin elder care as early as possible so that your mom can get used to the idea.

Eventually, it will be unsafe for her to cook meals. She may forget something is in the oven or on a burner and cause a fire. She could forget to turn off the gas knob if a burner fails to light.

As Alzheimer's progresses, your mom will need help with bathing, toileting, and dressing. She will not be able to drive. She will find it impossible to manage her finances. She could forget where she lives and get lost.

You might want to provide your mom's care. You can take over her finances, cook her meals, and drive her to stores and appointments. As the list of things she needs help with increases, you may find it's too much.

One thing you cannot forget when providing elder care services to a parent with Alzheimer's is to take breaks. It's emotionally and physically draining to provide care at all hours. Talk to a home care agency about services that help with Alzheimer's care. Respite care should be the first thing you discuss with a caregiver. Call now.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Valencia, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 364-4663.