Telling other health professionals such as your dentist, optician or at hospital appointments about your dementia can be helpful. Most health professionals need an accurate medical history to deliver the best service for you. This includes knowing that you have dementia.
If health professionals know you have dementia, they can make adjustments to the service they provide or make allowances to help. For example, you can ask for a written summary of your appointment and the things you need to do afterwards such as arrange blood tests or an x-ray. You could ask for a longer appointment or bring a support person with you.
- Health professionals will keep your personal information, including your diagnosis, confidential.
- Not all health professionals know much about dementia. You might need to give them information about dementia or send them to this website.
- It is helpful to tell other professionals who help you with legal and financial planning such as your accountant or lawyer.
Be assertive so that you’re involved in your management decisions
Health professionals sometimes assume that people with a diagnosis of dementia are not competent, and do not know how to support them to make decisions about their own care and life. This means they might make decisions about your treatments for you or expect your carer to make those decisions. They might not provide you with enough information about what your options are or offer you choices. They might also talk too fast, or not give you enough time to take in information so you can have a say in your care.
If you feel this is happening to you, you might need to be assertive in asking questions and not agree to something until you fully understand the other options and the possible consequences.
Help to be assertive with your doctor
- This article has helpful tips on how to be assertive in talking to your doctor.
- This Dementia Alliance Webinar recording gives suggestions on how to talk with your doctor about dementia.
Be assertive in asking for therapy
Some GPs and specialists who make diagnoses of dementia may not be up-to-date on management of dementia, particularly using a rehabilitation approach. Some doctors still believe that beyond medication, there is little that can be done to manage dementia. This is untrue.
If you are not offered therapies which you’ve read about on this website (see 3.4 Therapies to help memory and thinking), then you might need to ask your doctor to refer you to those services.
A hospital specialist may be able to refer you to allied health services such as an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech therapist or psychologist employed by the health service who can provide you with free services. If these health services are not available in your area, you may need to pay privately (if you have private health insurance they might cover some of these services).
Get funding for therapy
Chronic Disease Management Plans
In Australia, a GP can help you to develop a Chronic Disease Management Plan. These plans allow for five subsidised allied health therapy sessions each year which can help you to move forward with dementia. While it’s common for GPs to write Chronic Disease Management Plans for other conditions such as diabetes or arthritis, it’s less common for GPs to offer a plan for dementia. Dementia is a chronic disease and most people with dementia are eligible for such plan. You may need to ask your GP for a Chronic Disease Management Plan for your dementia as they may not think to offer this to you.
If your doctor wants more information about the evidence behind your requests for therapy, you can direct them to the Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Dementia.
Home Care Packages
If you receive a Home Care Package via MyAgedCare, you can use your funding for allied health therapy. It’s not common for home care package providers to suggest allied health therapy for dementia symptoms. Once again, you will need to be assertive in asking for your package funds to be spent on allied health.
See 5.3 Plan to use services for more information about getting services.