How to Convince Someone to Get an Evaluation for Dementia staff asked...

How can I get someone evaluated for dementia who's resistant to the idea?

Expert Answer

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health and caregiving; four of her family members have had dementia.

It can take supportiveness, tact, and creativity to encourage someone to have a clinician check out worrisome symptoms. Such evaluations tend to produce anxiety, and few people cavalierly agree to one, especially if they have suspicions that something's wrong but have not shared this with family members.

Some ideas:

  • Try calling the doctor in advance of a routine check-up to express concerns and ask about a memory screening. Or use another health complaint (fatigue, arthritis) as a pretext for making a physician appointment.
  • Keep it positive. Don't focus on the person's deficits but rather on retained skills and strengths and what can be gained by early treatment.
  • Make it your issue rather than hers. Explain that you would rest easier knowing that the person has the most up-to-date information about how to retain her memory, function, and quality of life. You want to her to live independently as long as possible.
  • Acknowledge fear. "It's not pleasant to think about and I'm a little worried, too. But if we can find out what's behind the mix-ups, then the problem can be treated."
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