Talking about brain health
Are you concerned a loved one may have dementia? If so, be
careful how you bring it up. It’s a scary subject!
Before jumping to conclusions, gather some information. Ask
family members and close friends what they have observed. Have others noticed
Think of the issue as one of “brain health.”
Brains change as we age. Using words such as “Alzheimer’s” or
“dementia” is premature. There are many—over 70—changes in brain
health that can affect memory and thinking.
Consider these talking tips:
- Ask if he or she has
noticed changes. They may not have noticed or may deny it. They may have
forgotten. Or they may have noticed and are also wondering (and scared!).
- Emphasize there are many
things that can contribute to fuzzy thinking – and ways to address them.
Dehydration. Depression. Medication side effects. Not enough sleep. Isolation
and lack of social stimulation.
- Make it clear you are a
team. It’s their body and brain. Your role is one of support. “I love
you and I’m worried about you. Let’s explore this together.”
- Approach the issue with
curiosity. It’s not about proving you are right and they have a problem.
It’s about learning if their brain needs some extra support, much the way a
sore knee may do better with medication and a brace.
- Remove barriers.
“Medicare pays for an annual exam that includes a review of brain
health.” “I can take you to the doctor. Even go in with you if you
want. Or you can go in by yourself.”
- Get a full evaluation.
Ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a complete assessment.
Not all thinking problems are Alzheimer’s. It’s good to get a firm diagnosis.
- Be patient. This
conversation may need to happen several times over weeks or months.
Is memory loss a concern?
As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates can help you navigate this sensitive subject. Give us a call at 301-593-5285. You don’t have to do this alone. Let’s start the conversation.