What do you do when a person refuses to see someone about their Alzheimer's symptoms?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 30, 2016
Fedupwithher asked...

What do you do when the person you are caring for has OBVIOUS signs of Alzheimer's but refuses to see a physician regarding any of her telltale symptoms?


Expert Answers

Jytte Lokvig, PhD, coaches families and professional caregivers and designs life-enrichment programs and activities for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Her workshops and seminars help caregivers and families create a healthy environment based on dignity and humor. She is the author of Alzheimer's A to Z: A Quick-Reference Guide.

When you say your friend has obvious signs of dementia, possibly of the Alzheimer's type, we assume you mean that she's experiencing short-term memory loss, increased confusion and maybe even personality changes. Specialists urge us to get ourselves tested and diagnosed as early as possible, because it gives us the opportunity to put our affairs in order. That is indeed a good idea, but unless a person is ready, it's hard to convince her of the benefits. The majority of us will hold on for dear life to our self-determination. It's human nature. Any person in the early stage of dementia will have a very hard time accepting that her memories are fading, let alone that this can be a precursor to a much more serious condition, such as Alzheimer's disease. Before you push too hard for tests specifically for Alzheimer's or related dementia, you might want to ask yourself if her current mental and cognitive state is putting her at risk or hampering her daily life.

There are numerous dementias, of which Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent, representing a little over one third of all dementia cases affecting millions of Americans. These conditions are irreversible and incurable. As common as these conditions are, we should not jump too quickly to a conclusion whenever we're faced with cognitive impairment.

Several reversible physical conditions mimic Alzheimer's and related dementia and it's important to identify them as soon as possible so that they can be corrected. Although your friend is strongly opposed to a test specifically for dementia, she may be more amenable to seeing her doctor for a thorough general physical, which usually includes a mini-mental test. Among the reversible conditions to look for are vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies, allergies, late onset diabetes, thyroid issues, dehydration, drug-interactions or reactions, low-grade infections and NPH, normal pressure hydrocephalus.

In the meantime, laughter, music, good company and good food help to make the best of each and every day for both of you.