Ask a GP
Tell the GP about your concerns and ask for an assessment.
Dr Dimity Pond and Ramon, a carer, talk about their relationship and the importance of involving a GP in this short video by Dementia Australia:
Make a long appointment with a GP you know
Ideally, talk to a GP you are comfortable with who knows your medical history. If you don’t have a usual GP, use the Australian Government healthdirect Service Finder to find a GP.
Book a longer consultation if you can, so there is plenty of time to talk.
Be honest about your symptoms and concerns
Let the GP know about your concerns. Tell them what used to be normal for you (or the person experiencing changes) and what has changed.
Tell them when you first noticed changes, how often they occur and whether they are getting worse. For example:
“I/ They have been going to the same supermarket for years, but now I/ they seem to get lost on the way there.”
“I/ They used to manage paying bills online but for the last couple of months I/ they can’t seem to work the computer.”
“I/ They used to cook without recipes but for about a year now, I/ they can’t seem to remember the steps.”
Bring a list of concerns
If you have completed the Checklist for dementia symptoms and changes (see Check for Changes), take a printed copy to show the GP.
If not write a list of concerns and take these with you. Write down when you first noticed changes and how often you have difficulties.
If this is your first visit to this GP, take a list (or a photograph) of your current medicines.
Bring a family supporter
The person visiting the GP may like to have someone they trust come to the appointment with them. This trusted supporter could help to take notes, and may update other family members after the visit.
If the person experiencing changes is unaware or not comfortable talking about the changes, a family supporter might go with them to tell the GP their concerns.
Ask for a comprehensive health assessment
You might ask your GP for a check-up or a comprehensive health assessment. Book a longer consultation so that you have plenty of time to discuss your concerns.
Health assessments check many aspects of health, including heart, metabolic, mental and brain health. Usually, the assessment will involve blood tests, urine tests, a physical examination and questions about your health. You can specifically request dementia screening as part of this check-up and discuss any other health conditions that increase your risk.
75+ health assessments
If you’re 75 years or older, you can ask for a Medicare subsidised 75+ health assessment.
These are comprehensive assessments that take up to an hour, and usually involve an examination by the GP and a practice nurse.
75+ health assessments are designed to take a holistic look at the person’s health and provide both prevention and management advise to optimise wellbeing.
As part of the 75+ assessment, mood and cognition (thinking) are assessed.
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