Different Doctors to Help with Alzheimer’s
Patients and loved ones alike struggle to cope with Alzheimer’s, which is an admittedly confusing time for everyone involved. Finding the right care providers, who can focus on a holistic plan and communicate effectively with you, benefits all parties. Several types of doctors offer help with Alzheimer’s; each type offers a unique perspective and area of expertise.
Primary Care Provider
Often this journey begins with the person’s primary care provider, who is usually familiar with the patient and can identify changes in thought process and memory that others might miss. They fill a particularly important role, especially in the beginning stages of the disease. A PCP has access to the patient’s medical history and can make referrals to specialists as needed.
However, in some cases, the PCPs failed to properly diagnose Alzheimer’s.A delay in diagnosis means that patients remain untreated, which could mean further losses in cognitive abilities. Loved ones and caregivers can learn the symptoms and brings concerns to their PCPs if they see signs of dementia so that the individual can undergo a proper exam and screening.
An occupational therapist works with an Alzheimer’s patient to compensate for loss of cognitive abilities and to promote independence for as long as possible. They assist patients by addressing problematic behaviors and by modifying how daily activities are done so that the patient is able to do more for themselves. Occupational therapists interact closely with caregivers, instructing them on the patient’s treatment plan to better provide an environment of safety and independence at home.
Geriatricians specialize in the care of the elderly. A geriatrician brings a unique perspective and knowledge of this age group, which other care providers may lack. For example, they can provide specific insight on what changes are normally associated with aging vs. what changes might be due to Alzheimer’s. They then make recommendations on how to address these changes, helping to minimize their impact for the patient and family members.
Neurologists conduct brain scans and detect abnormalities, providing information for other care providers to use when making treatment decisions. Neurologists perform memory tests and cognitive exams to determine how far the Alzheimer’s has progressed and to assess any changes since a previous visit. Since Alzheimer’s is a nervous system disorder, the neurologist fills an important role when putting together a comprehensive treatment plan for the patient.
Psychiatrists diagnose and prescribe medications for mental disorders.Alzheimer’s sometimes leads to symptoms of depression and anxiety, among other potential issues, adding stress to an already difficult situation. If the patient appears to struggle with mental health issues, they should meet with a psychiatrist for a mental health evaluation. Medications can stabilize moods and hormones, which makes other aspects of treatment easier to implement.