Choosing when to consult a doctor

Choosing when to consult a doctor

The best time to consult your doctor is as soon as you recognize that you may be experiencing warning signs of dementia.

The earlier that you consult a doctor, the earlier you will have information to help identify what you are experiencing. Doctors are able to diagnose dementia earlier, and this gives people living with dementia more time to plan, access supports and services that allow them to continue in the workplace or enjoying leisure activities as long as possible, and get the most out of their daily activities.

It is also important to know that dementia diagnoses take time. You will be required to complete multiple assessments and tests before a diagnosis can be offered. Consulting your doctor as soon as you experience warning signs will allow them to make a diagnosis as early as possible.


Accessing information and support

What to expect when you consult a doctor

Making an appointment to talk to a doctor is an important step toward a diagnosis. In order to make the most of your time with a doctor, it can be helpful to know what is likely to be expected and prepare accordingly. There are steps you can take before, during, and after you meet with a doctor. 

Use a calendar, journal, or sheet of paper to track your symptoms and experiences.

  • Make note of when your symptoms and experiences occur.
  • Detail what you feel, notice, or are doing when you are having symptoms or challenges.
  • Identify anything that makes your symptoms or experiences better or worse.
  • Make note of anything that your workplace supervisor, colleagues, or people at home have identified about your symptoms or experiences – even if it doesn’t align to what you are noticing.

  • Introduce anyone that is attending the meeting with you, and be clear about the role that you are comfortable with them playing in the meeting - such as sharing information, asking questions, and taking notes.
  • Tell your doctor what you have been experiencing, and provide specific examples of changes in behaviour, memory, or mood.
  • Share the calendar, journal, or sheet of paper where you have been tracking your symptoms and experiences.
  • Ask what activities you should continue to help maintain your health and well-being, and which you should limit.
  • Tell your physician how confident you are in your ability to fulfill your job requirements, and ask what types of accommodations would be required for you to continue working.
  • Ask your doctor what information you should share with your employer about your job duties and workplace accommodations.

  • Review the notes from the appointment.
  • Talk to someone you trust about your appointment and how you are feeling.
  • If recommended by your doctor, work with someone you trust to plan what you will share with your employer and when.
  • Schedule any tests or follow up appointments recommended by your doctor, and make note of them in a scheduling device and with a trusted family member or friend.

For more information:

The Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories offers a detailed Getting a Diagnosis toolkit to support you through your doctor’s visit and the steps required to receive a dementia diagnosis. The toolkit includes worksheets you can complete before you consult your doctor as well as information about the types of tests that your doctor may require you to complete.