Scroll Down Scroll Up
HOME / carers / Coming to terms with dementia / 2.12 Be assertive with doctors and other professionals

2.12 Be assertive with doctors and other professionals

Some health and social care providers may not have much experience with dementia.

It is a good idea to tell your family doctor or nurse practitioner, specialist, or other health professionals (e.g., dentist, optometrist, physiotherapist, etc) that the person you care for has dementia, as dementia can impact the care of other parts of their health. See the section Managing symptoms and changes.

However, some health and social care providers may not have that much experience or knowledge about dementia and you or the person with dementia might need to tell them how you would like to be supported. It can be helpful if you bring a list of questions you have to appointments. It is important to be an advocate for yourself and the person you are caring for. 

Be assertive so that you are involved in decisions about your care

Care partners have told us that some health care providers treat people with dementia as though they are not competent, and do not support them in making decisions about their own care and life. It is important to be clear that the person with dementia needs to be involved in decisions about their care.  Ask the provider if they have shared all of the information with you and the person you support, or if there are any other choices to consider. This way, they will know your wishes and preferences.   

If you and the person you support feel that the health or social care provider is not providing you with enough information, or is talking too fast, you might need to ask clarifying questions and ask them to explain again.  You do not have to agree to something until you fully understand what the options are and the risks and benefits of each option.   

Be assertive in asking for dementia treatments

While many doctors are very knowledgeable about dementia care, there are often new approaches to care being developed. It is always helpful to discuss your questions, or share something new that you have wondered about. This was, you can discuss with your doctor if this is helpful for you or not.    

One example may be in the area of rehabilitation for dementia. Using rehabilitation (such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, or speech language therapy) may help to maintain a person’s day to day function so that you can stay independent longer. You can read about rehabilitative approaches on this website (see the section Managing symptoms and changes), and talk this over with your doctor to decide together if it is right for you. A family doctor or specialist may be able to refer the person with dementia to the appropriate health care professional to such as an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, or psychologist to help address individual needs.  If these health services are not covered by your provincial health insurance, you may need to pay privately. If you have private health insurance, some of the costs of these services might be covered. 

Learn more about being assertive with doctors and other professionals

  • This Dementia Alliance Webinar recording gives suggestions on how a person with dementia can talk with their doctor about dementia 
  • Although this article is not about dementia it has some helpful tips on how to be assertive in talking to the doctor. The strategies shared in this article and the Dementia Alliance Webinar can be used with other health care providers