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20 Questions to Ask When Dementia is Diagnosed

UCLA experts say information can help patients and families through next steps

Woman holding a list of questions and talking to her doctor

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En español | A diagnosis of dementia, whether your own or a loved one’s, may leave everyone involved feeling overwhelmed, anxious and uncertain about what the future will hold. It’s important to gather as much information from your doctor as you can, starting with 20 questions, compiled by the University of California at Los Angeles Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, to help dementia patients and their families navigate the complex medical, social and emotional issues associated with their diagnosis.  

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Key questions to ask your doctor:

  1. What type of dementia do I have?
  2. What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
  3. What caused my dementia?
  4. What is the likely course of decline? How long do I have?
  5. What symptoms, other than memory loss, can I expect, and what will the pace of decline be?
  6. What can I do to slow the decline? (What medicines are effective and what results can I expect from them? What lifestyle changes will be helpful?)
  7. What about advertised supplements and programs that claim to cure Alzheimer’s disease?
  8. Where can I go to learn more about dementia?
  9. What help is available to guide me through my illness?
  10. If I have a problem that might be related to my dementia, whom should I call?
  11. What plans should I make now to prepare for a time when I can be less engaged in making decisions?
  12. How should I select a family or friend caregiver?
  13. What are reasonable goals for me for me now and in the future?
  14. How can I preserve what matters to me?
  15. As the disease progresses, will I suffer?
  16. I’m afraid of becoming dependent and a burden. Will that happen?
  17. When will I need to get help in the home or go to a facility?
  18. Should I tell people about my diagnosis?
  19. Should I continue to interact with people even though they might notice that something about me is different?
  20. What are the chances that my children will get dementia? Is there anything they can do to prevent getting dementia?

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