A vital component of a dementia patient's care is yearly visits to the doctor. A GP should interview patients and their carers during the yearly checkup, review current medications, look for any new symptoms or behavioural changes, and talk about future planning and carer support. The dementia patient and their carer should still visit their doctor for a yearly review even if they feel OK. This examination is a crucial component of their overall care.
Even though each GP practice may have a different strategy for annual reviews, the appointment should address the subjects we'll explore in more detail in this article…
What is covered by the GP in an annual review?
Treatment and Support
The GP will discuss maintaining abilities and skills with the dementia patient during their annual evaluation. For instance, they can suggest a physiotherapist to keep them mobile or think about medication to aid with behavioural adjustments.
Depending on the type of dementia the patient has, the doctor may already have prescribed medicine. Although dementia has no known cure, medicines can ease some of its symptoms.
The GP frequently assumes control of ongoing prescriptions of the pharmaceuticals if a specialist begins a course of treatment. Once the patient starts taking the drug at the recommended dosage, this will happen. Contact your doctor right away if a side effect of any medication arises. The medication or dose might need to be changed.
Changes in Symptoms and Behaviour
The doctor may inquire about any recent changes in symptoms and how they are affecting the patient and others who are helping them. If the symptom cannot be cured, the doctor may advise a course of action or discuss strategies to manage it.
Going Through Changes
The individual with dementia will alter as the disease progresses, and these changes may include acting differently. If they are agitated or restless, for instance, this could make them or their caregiver uncomfortable or present issues. When someone acts in this way, they can be upset, signalling a need that they can't express or aren't even aware of. Any medical factors that might be influencing the behaviour, such as discomfort or an illness, can be ruled out by the doctor.
Support for Behavioural Changes
They may also refer them to a specialised service, such as a community mental health team, or provide information and support regarding their behaviour. A group of mental health specialists, including social workers, community psychiatric nurses, and occupational therapists, support people's mental health in the community.
Planned care in advance
The doctor may initiate or resume discussions regarding advance care planning during the annual evaluation. If the individual loses the ability to make decisions about their own care, they might explain what might occur in the future, in particular, the following possibilities:
- A person can designate another person to make financial or medical decisions for them in the future if they are no longer able to do so themselves using a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or an enduring power of attorney (EPA).
- Advance Statements. These enable a person to describe their likes and dislikes as well as their future preferences. Advance statements are not legally binding, unlike LPAs and advance directives, but they must still be considered.
Planning for End-of-Life Care
It might be upsetting to consider care and end-of-life care. Knowing that the individual has done their best to document their choices and preferences ahead of any decisions that need to be made can also be comforting. They may then concentrate on living well as a result.
Ask the doctor about it without hesitation. They will be able to support you and the dementia patient in the best possible ways if you are open and honest with them.
Addressing the Diagnosis
The doctor will make sure the dementia patient is aware of their diagnosis. The type of dementia patients have, such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, or another type, as well as its implications, may be confirmed.
The GP may examine whether the dementia patient or their caretaker is in danger of harm or of not taking care of themselves adequately in order to ensure that everyone is safe and healthy.
They could inquire as to what might be making them feel anxious or uneasy. The patient's GP may inquire about their interests, hobbies, or how they handle everyday tasks. They could inquire as to what it means for the person with dementia to live effectively
The patient's doctor should make sure the caretaker, family, or friends' contact information is up to date. A carer's assessment and review of your own should be made available to you if you are a patient at the same GP office.
Our health kiosks have a Dementia Carer’s Review which is a series of questions to be filled in by the patient with the help of their carer, this can be done prior to the face-to-face GP appointment. The questions can be addressed at the patient's pace and with just the assistance of their carer making it a way less intimidating and stressful exercise, it also means that the time spent with the GP can be used for more quality time and assessment rather than information gathering.
For more information on our health kiosks contact us on 01223 812737 or firstname.lastname@example.org