Are you wondering whether recent changes in you or someone you care about could be related to dementia? Are you seeing signs of a dementia, but haven’t pursued a diagnosis yet as you know there is no cure?

3 Important Factors to Consider Before You Delay Making That Appointment

Original article by Teepa Snow, MS, ORT/L, FAOTA, with minor updates by Valerie Feurich, PAC Team Member

By Valerie Feurich

Noticing signs of a possible dementia can be scary, and hesitation to get a proper evaluation is quite common. Many people are left thinking why bother?, since the scientific and medical communities have yet to find a way to halt the condition from progressing.

However, there are several reasons why getting a medical evaluation is important, and why not knowing for sure will likely cause you more trouble in the long run. To help you better make that call, we’ve listed three reasons why you should consider talking to a doctor:

1. It may not be dementia, but something else that’s treatable

Did you know that there are several medical conditions that can mimic a dementia? Things like delirium, depression, anxiety, or hydrocephalus can present with similar symptoms as a true dementia. Some medications may have side effects that cause dementia-like symptoms, too.

Getting evaluated by a physician will help you determine what may be really going on. Your general practitioner may be a good start.  By providing you with a referral to a neurologist for a workup. However, if your physician responds with a blank he probably has Alzheimers and wants to leave it at that, proactively ask for a neurological workup.

While your doctor surely means well, realize that they only see you or the person you’re concerned about for a few short minutes at a time. If you feel like your concern isn’t properly addressed, don’t be worried about asking for something else, or seeing another doctor altogether.

Physicians are trying the best they can, but may not always share your concern as they may not see what you’re seeing in the very brief time you meet. Now is the time to become an advocate for yourself or the person you’re concerned about.

2. Consider the future

Did you know that, at the time of this writing, there are thought to be over 100 different types and forms of dementia? And did you know that each type progresses differently?

People living with Alzheimers disease, for example, live between three and 11 years after diagnosis, on average. The average life expectancy of someone living with Vascular Dementia. However, is around five years after symptoms begin. If you don’t know what you’re dealing with, how can you properly prepare?

Consider the financial and legal aspects that will arise as the condition progresses. Long-term care costs are significant, and legal preparations. For example, determining a health care advocatehealthcare advance directive, or getting a financial power of attorney, are vital pieces that are better planned for while the person is still able to express their wishes. Working with an Elder Law Attorney can help you prepare and set up necessary legal and financial documents, and spare you from having to make important decisions by yourself in a time of crisis.

3. Don’t lose the opportunity of a better quality of life

At the time of the writing of this article, there is no cure for dementia. However, there are ways to manage symptoms to offer an increased quality of life. Yet, realize that none of these options will be available without knowing what you or the person you care about are truly living with.

In addition, treatments and care approaches differ depending on what it is you’re dealing with. As Teepa famously stated – Until there’s a cure, there’s care. If you find yourself in the position of a caregiver for a person that may be living with dementia, knowing what you’re up against is key. It will enable you to start learning skills early that will significantly improve your life and that of the person living with the condition.


Facing something that could potentially affect your life in significant ways sure can be scary. It can be easier to avoid asking uncomfortable questions, or to pretend nothing is wrong. However, if it is a dementia you are dealing with, change is inevitable, and you’ll hit a point where you’ll need help.

Consulting a medical professional to help you figure out whether it is a type of dementia or something else you’re dealing with is an important step. Ensuring the best positive outcome for yourself or the person that you care about. If it is a dementia you’re dealing with, this knowledge allows you to better prepare legal and financial matters for the future. In returns it gives you the opportunity to create the best possible quality of life the situation allows.

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