5 questions for your doctor: are memory issues a concern?

If you or a loved one have concerns about memory loss or other unexplained changes in behavior, getting an expert opinion from your family doctor is an important first step in understanding how to proceed.

Medicare offers a free annual wellness visit for those 65 and older where patients can request a brain health assessment. But if you don’t see your family physician frequently, he or she may not know you well enough to determine if you are experiencing cognitive changes.

To help, the Alzheimer’s Association has developed a list of five questions that individuals or family members can ask the doctor to help ensure that the visit is productive and patients get proper direction.

1. Do I (or the patient) have any medical conditions that could increase my risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?
2. Am I taking any medications that could be causing memory or cognitive-related symptoms?
3. What tests could you perform that might rule out Alzheimer’s or dementia as a diagnosis?
4. Are you aware of my family history – particularly among immediate family (grandparents, parents or siblings) related to Alzheimer’s or dementia?
5. Should I be concerned about … (explain any changes in memory, focus, thinking or mood)?

“This is a good starting point for having a productive conversation with your family doctor,” said Danelle Hubbard, director of Health Systems and Family Services for the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “I would suggest bringing these questions in writing along with any other specific concerns or examples you may have. There can be a number of reasons behind memory loss and personality change, so it’s important to get guidance from your doctor as early as possible.”

For individuals who have immediate questions, the Alzheimer’s Association has a free, 24/7 Helpline staffed by trained professionals who can provide guidance and support: 800-272-3900. Information also is available on the Association’s website: www.alz.org/co.

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