Monday, June 1, 2020

Alzheimer's & Visiting the PCP

Talk about a bumpy road, a visit to the Doctor can go either way when visiting with an Alzheimer's or Dementia patient. Nowadays, we have to be extra cautious, as we need to be one step ahead of COVID19. Wash your hands immediately after leaving the doctor’s office. Or use hand sanitizer, I personally have a spritzer bottle that contains rubbing 97% alcohol and lavender oil. I use that to spray the sterling wheel of my car. My daughter teases me and says I’m going overboard. I think not! My portable handwashing station is overkill, I know, but I don’t care. Let’s move on to talking about the doctor's visit. Before you even make the appointment you have to figure out when is the best time of the day, to take your loved one to the doctor, it has been my experience that around eleven in the morning or sometime after that, is the best time to schedule any type of an appointment. If you schedule something in the morning, prepare yourself for a meltdown, I would not with all certainty say that this will occur, but 75% of the time it does. And it ends with a canceled appointment because; you couldn’t even make it out of the house. Let’s err on the safe side and schedule something later in the morning. And prepare everything in order to have a smooth experience.

 Another thing to keep in mind is to have an ongoing list of questions to ask the PCP. What is PCP? Primary Care Physician, it is usually a family medicine, general physician, or internal medicine doctor. The neurologist, the geriatric psychiatrist, or Cardiologist are NOT PCP'S.
 Let’s go back to the list, have you ever been in the doctor’s office and while you are sitting there talking, in the back of your mind you are searching for that very important question that you said you needed to remember the next time you were at the doctor’s office? This is why you need to keep a list. It happens to me all the time, ha, ha, ha, I always forget to make one. What should go on that list? Any questions, concerns, anything that you consider important. Maybe things are changing and behavioral problems are more frequent. Need to change meds? Are there any changes to the routines? Maybe a UTI is a culprit. Like I said in another post, you need to become a behavioral detective. Hmm, that may become a thing! Seriously though, if things are changing, always pay attention to the time of day that the incident takes place, write it down. The PCP may ask you if there is a time frame pattern.

Now that we have the time frame and the list of questions figured out. We will talk about transportation. Our medical Director at my previous job suggested that the rear seat is the best place for our Alzheimer’s – Dementia Patient. The child lock must be put on. I’ve heard stories of patients with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s that were front-seat passengers and unexpectedly tried to get out of the moving car. That is a terrifying experience for the driver. If we take these steps as a precaution you may be saving yourself from a scary situation.  Try to leave the house with plenty of time to spare before the appointment. I always take my emergency bag with me; I leave it in the car at all times it helps me lower my anxiety if they have an accident. Please refer to the blog Alzheimer’s and Feces, to find about the contents of the mentioned bag.

Where to find the child lock

A very important thing I would like to add if your loved one or patient has different doctors, it is NECESSARY, that they all communicate with each other. It is your job to make sure that happens. In order to have great care, the doctors have to make educated decisions based on tests and the information that is given to them, by you and their colleagues. If they don’t know what the Neurologist is prescribing or the Cardiologist, they won’t be able to give the best care possible. Make a (CLEAR) detailed list of all the meds that are taken include the time of the day that you give it.  Overmedicating is a problem and if the doctors don’t know what the right hand is doing, then they can’t provide the proper care to your loved one or patient.

Another tidbit to keep in mind, the pharmacist is NOT A DOCTOR! They may have extensive knowledge of medications, but still NOT A DOCTOR! If they have any questions about the meds that they are dispensing, it is their obligation to call the prescribing doctor and clear their doubts. They can be the perfect champion for you, as they are well versed on medications and they might be aware of the effects of using two medications that may create a conflict when taken together.

All of these pieces of information are to help you be prepared, be aware, and to empower you.

Wishing you a good trip to the doctors’ office. It is a bumpy road, but we are in this together.