Get the most out of a GP assessment
The GP or practice nurse will ask about when the changes started and how they impact on day-to-day life.
What to expect from a GP assessment
A GP assessment might take several appointments. The GP or practice nurse will ask about:
- Medical history and that of close family
- Current medicines.
The GP will also conduct a physical examination and organise blood tests (see Tests and investigations). They will ask questions to test memory and thinking. They might also ask to speak to a family member.
You will usually need to return to the GP when they have the test results. The GP will explain their findings and discuss what happens next.
At the appointment to discuss test results, the GP may:
- Find reasons for the changes that are not dementia, and treat according to those reasons
- Encourage you to monitor the changes and come back to see them for further assessment in six to twelve months
- Refer you for more tests and investigations
- Refer you to a specialist doctor
- Tell you that you may have dementia and start managing your dementia.
Get written information and ask questions
- Ask the GP to write down key information and next steps
- Write notes or ask a support person to write notes
- If there’s anything you do not understand, ask the GP to explain it in simpler terms
- Ask questions. There is a list of possible questions to ask your doctor about a dementia diagnosis on the Forward with Dementia website.
Get further advice if needed
Some people with dementia have told us that their GP initially dismissed their concerns about changes as ‘part of ageing’.
If you are not satisfied with how GP responds to your concerns, ask them to refer you to a specialist such a geriatrician or memory clinic. You could also try visiting another GP for a second opinion.
Ask for a management plan
A GP should help ensure you get the treatments and other supports you need. The GP should:
- Give you information about dementia, answering questions and addressing concerns
- Discuss possible treatments and referrals
- Offer regular ongoing appointments for monitoring and management
Phil Hazell, who is living with dementia, describes his relationship with his GP in this short Dementia Australia video:
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