Care professionals involved with Dementia

Which Care Team May Get Involved During Cognitive Decline

Being forgetful and repeating what you say doesn’t always indicate cognitive decline. But, if it keeps happening and you find that someone is misplacing items, losing their train of thought in conversations or having trouble following directions, it’s probably time for them to see a doctor and other professionals who can do a more thorough diagnosis and assist with treatment and life changes.

What type of professional may get involved with cognitive decline in older adults? We’ll explain the roles of different professionals in these cases.   Each individual’s assessment and care may vary so please refer to insurance and the personal primary care doctor’s instructions.

Primary Care Doctor

It is likely recommended to see a primary care doctor first. The primary care physician will gather all of the information needed to make an early diagnosis. They can also rule out other potential reasons for the forgetfulness or confusion. For example, some medications can cause symptoms similar to dementia.

Here are some of the tests and exams a primary care doctor may perform:

  • Physical exam
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Medical history
  • Family history
  • Social history
  • Current medications list
  • Lab tests
  • CT scan or MRI

Neurologist or Cognitive Specialist

Once a primary care doctor runs all of the necessary tests, they may be able to make an early diagnosis. However, they may recommend that the diagnosis be confirmed by a neurologist or cognitive specialist.

Patients can expect to work with a neurologist at some point, for a complete diagnosis or to treat symptoms. Neurologists are trained in brain disorders and can offer another opinion. They are also versed in the latest treatments and therapies for cognitive disorders.

Psychologist

Another team that may get involved are a psychologist and social worker. These professionals can provide counseling and support to help to accept the diagnosis and begin to make lifestyle changes. If a patient becomes depressed or anxious with the new diagnosis, a psychologist can refer the person to a psychiatrist who can recommend appropriate medications. It’s normal to feel scared, anxious and confused, so it can be helpful to talk to someone about how they are feeling.

Nutritionist

Seeing a nutritionist can also make a difference in the prognosis. A nutritionist will go over diet and may suggest healthy changes. Eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables boosts physical and mental wellness. A nutritionist will probably encourage more physical activity as well. Being physically active maintains a healthy weight, prevents cardiovascular disease and may delay the progression of dementia symptoms.