Expert advice

SEEKING A TIMELY DIAGNOSIS
When is it time to bring in experts, or seek medical attention for one who is experiencing memory loss?

Not all memory loss is the same, and some memory loss is simply considered to be a natural part of the aging process. Only a qualified healthcare provider, like your doctor or a specialist, can make an official diagnosis of dementia, or any other condition that may be affecting their ability to cope. Be honest. Share specific examples and don’t exaggerate or hide symptoms. The more straightforward information you can provide the likelier a conclusive diagnosis can be reached in a timely fashion and the faster available treatments can begin.

TELLING PEOPLE YOU HAVE DEMENTIA
My husband doesn’t want to tell our kids or our friends that he has been diagnosed with dementia. He thinks they will not want to be around him and treat him differently. Am I wrong with wanting him to be honest?

You and your husband can take comfort in the fact that while some people in your circle will drift away, others will do the opposite. According to one study, most Canadians (72 per cent) would feel comfortable interacting with someone they already know who has dementia and many will even step up to offer support. 

 It’s wise to tell people who are closest to you first and encourage them to learn more about the disease. Some people do prefer to be left alone which makes it hard on their spouses and the few family members who do know. Speak to your family doctor if this continues to be a problem.

UNDERSTANDING CLINICAL TRIALS
Should I encourage my sister to join a clinical trial she’s been invited to be part of?

Participation is a very personal decision and should be discussed with your sister’s medical team in detail as a clinical trial is a research study performed on invited volunteers that evaluates a medical, surgical, or behavioural intervention. Her participation will undoubtedly help researchers find out if a new treatment, like a new drug or diet or medical device (for example, a pacemaker) is safe and effective for use in humans. However, patients may experience side effects or find treatments, hospital stays, and frequent trips to the study site to be demanding, but they may also be helping to find a cure for themselves or others.

ALONE CARING
Other family members are rotating shifts and raising children. I am alone, so everyone wants me to take on more work with our parents. I really don’t want to, any suggestions?

Difficult times! You don’t mention why you don’t want to help but clearly, this shouldn’t be forced on you. Call a family meeting and talk to a case manager or family doctor about what can be done. Perhaps there can be a compromise worked out if others can mediate.

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