Working With Your Health-Care Provider
Your primary-care physician should be your first point of contact, as he or she should know your medical history already. However, any health-care provider that you see should take a full medical history and conduct a thorough medical exam. You'll be asked about any previous illnesses, drugs you take, diet, general health and social circumstances, such as your line of work. Many people find it helpful to bring a close relative or good friend who has witnessed any change in behavior to help fill in "blanks." Go to your visit prepared. Bring:
- A list of problems, particularly examples of possible memory loss
- A list of drugs (It is helpful if you bring the actual bottles for the health-care provider to see.)
- An outline of your medical history (major surgery, illnesses)
- Any specific questions you have concerning memory loss
If necessary, your health-care provider will refer you to someone who specializes in memory testing — this could be a psychiatrist, neurologist or neuropsychologist. The specialist will ask you a number of questions, and you will have to perform some paper-and-pencil tests. The results of these tests identify underlying problems with memory or other brain functions, such as language and visual coordination. Blood and urine analysis, X-rays and a brain scan may be given to rule out any other diseases. Be patient; this can be a long process, and it may take a few visits to get a complete work-up.