How GPs can support you on your dementia journey

Your GP is a critical component to keeping you healthy. They can provide support to your and your loved ones in numerous ways. This post will cover some support options you have through your GP, Memory Clinics and Dementia Advisors.

How your GP can support you

A dementia diagnosis usually begins with the GP. A general assessment will be completed to rule out other causes for the symptoms. They are likely to also complete blood tests and memory tests. Your GP may refer you to a consultant to establish further causes of symptoms. It may be advised if you are under 65 to visit a neurologist or a memory clinic. Your GP will additionally help with these referrals. A GP can offer general prevention advice, promoting fitness, medical guidance, treatments and referrals to specialists.

When you attend an appointment with your GP it might be helpful to write down all the topics you wish to discuss. During the consultation, it can be difficult to remember the points you wanted to cover, having a list ensures that all questions get answered. Feel free to take notes on the conversation and ask them to clarify any points that you do not understand. Asking a family member or friends to come with you to the appointment can help provide support and aid in getting questions and concerns answered.

GPs can recommend other helpful services and refer you as needed. These services may include community care, meal programs, respite care for carers and residential care. Your GP is also available to help you understand any prescription medication. Be sure to make a list of any medication you take and bring it with you to your GP and be sure they are aware of these medications. Ask them questions to be sure you understand what the drug is for, how and when it should be taken and side effects.

Why Memory Clinics

As mentioned, your GP may refer you to a memory clinic. A memory clinic is a specialised centre that identifies, treats, further diagnosis and conducts memory tests for those with memory disordered and dementia. These clinics work to provide the best treatment not only for memory challenges but for other health-related problems that are causing those living with dementia difficulties. Memory clinics can provide great overall support. This includes post-diagnostic counselling and emotional support. Additionally, some clinics may offer opportunities to be involved with drug trials, studies and other research.

Here are 2 resources to find a memory clinic in Ireland.

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland

Dementia Pathways

How to access Dementia Advisors

The Alzheimer Society of Ireland also has Dementia Advisors that provide individualised information and signposting services. Through all stages of dementia, they provide support and advice. They also can help you get connected to additional support services, local groups and help make communities more dementia-friendly. This service is free and confidential, you can find a Dementia Adviser near you and get more information here.

Many services can support you throughout your dementia journey. Your GP is a great source and should be there to help you, be sure to reach out and schedule an appointment if you have any questions about your care or how they can help. Additionally, there are other support services in Ireland like Memory Clinics and Dementia Advisors. For even more resources to aid you, check out this post!