Social Distancing At Doctors Appointments Doesn’t Work for Alzheimer’s Patients

I ran into a problem at my doctors appointment when I went in to my eye surgery. At my appointment before my surgery the doctor had informed me that it was imperative that I go off of several of my medications that I had been taking because they can make my eyes worse.

The day of my surgery on both eyes, my husband and I got to the surgical center and were informed that because of COVID 19 my husband could not stay inside the surgical center and would have to stay in the car and they would text him when my surgery was over. This may work for most patients, but when you have Early Onset Alzheimer’s and you can’t remember what someone told you one minute ago, and your nervous about your surgery anyways, being left alone and expected to retain the information that the nurses and doctors tell you is a daunting task.

I raised the concern to the receptionist and she said there was no way around it.My anxiety went through the roof. My husband left and went to the parking lot. They took me back to be prepped for surgery and I explained that I had several written questions about my medications and medical conditions in my phone and that I also had Early Onset Alzheimer’s and I would not be able to retain the information they would tell me. I asked them if they could put it in their patient portal for me or write it down. They indicated they would not do this because they had back to back surgeries, but I think they were fearful of malpractice issues. I asked if I could have a pen and paper that I could take notes because it was ridiculous that they would expect an Alzheimer’s patient to be able to retain what is being said to them and not bring a caregiver with them. They said that was fine so that is what I did.

I certainly understand that these procedures are in place to protect the doctors, nurses and patients, but exceptions need to be made for people who are elderly or with cognitive disorders. Thankfully, my surgery was successful, the notes I took were sufficient that I could explain to my husband my post op care, and next steps. Another coping strategy identified.

Not today, Alzheimer’s not today!

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6 thoughts on “Social Distancing At Doctors Appointments Doesn’t Work for Alzheimer’s Patients

  1. Kelly that must have been really difficult,I am so sorry.Things are so crazy and hard for all of us right now . .But even more so for you take care and bless you.

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    1. Thank you, Glenda. Fortunately right now I can think fairly quickly on my feet and still come up with coping strategies, but for someone far along in this disease this would be very frightening.

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  2. What a tremendous observation! I’m in the process of helping my city become “Dementia-friendly”, part of dementia-friendly USA. Businesses are interested in experiences like this one. What can they do to make an “exception” for people with dementia? I have to take my POA, my eldest sister, with me on doctor’s appointments because I can’t remember what they said and if left on my own, I’d probably make stuff up anyway. “Doc said the dementia is gone, but I’m pregnant. Twins.” Seriously, you presented an issue worth exploring further. I wonder if the same applies to “comfort animals”?

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    1. Thank you, James. It doesn’t seem very difficult for them to accommodate elderly people or those with cognitive disorders or someone with a comfort animal. As long as the caregiver is also wearing a mask it should not be too difficult. Common sense needs to be applied here, and in my situation it was not. Thanks again.

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