Can you make someone get memory tests if they refuse?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
Thinkerbelle asked...

How do you make someone get tested for memory issues if they refuse?

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

An adult with memory issues often refuses testing. Be mindful of why this may be. Chances are the person has always been in control of life's situations and(s)he may be feeling a loss of this control when someone else is suggesting an evaluation. Refusing memory tests is one way of exerting control particularly when one is aware of his/her own cognitive decline. Testing may confirm what the memory-impaired person already believes and it may be more than the person is able to handle at this time.
It would make life so much cheerier if we, as family members, could insist that memory testing take place; unfortunately, we can not 'make' someone get tested. So what CAN we do? On a personal note, I had my husband, who had memory issues in the early stage of Vascular Dementia, accompany me to a doctor's appointment. I explained to him that I was hoarse and needed to have my throat checked. I asked him to come into the doc's office with me as I was having trouble speaking clearly. This was a 'fiblet' and thankfully a successful one - I had no medical issue at that time. It was in fact our first trip to a neurologist for memory testing and by asking some pertinent questions, the clinician was able to immediately identify an underlying short term memory deficit. If you find the person, who will be doing the interview, by asking for recommendations from the Alzheimer's Association, you will be more apt to find a clinician who has done this kind of fiblet-related testing many times before and who understands the need to occasionally be a bit evasive in order to reach your common goal of identifying the loss. You do need to chat with the staff at the testing site prior to your appointment so everyone is on the same page. Another suggestion, depending on where you live geographically, would be to have the clinician come to the house. These wonderful peeople are available in many locations across the U.S. and again may be identified through your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.