We understand that having a loved one experience symptoms of cognitive decline or dementia is concerning for families, and relatives are often keen to be involved in SMS appointments.
We value family members’ input and participation, both for supporting the person undergoing assessment/treatment, and also in providing another perspective and observations of any changes noticed day-to-day.
Of course, any involvement of family members in a patient’s appointments requires the consent of the patient involved, and this will be discussed prior to commencement of the assessment.
How to assist your relative to prepare for their appointment:
Some patients find it helpful to know what to expect in advance of their appointment at SMS. In such cases family may wish to discuss the SMS assessment process with their loved one, including the details above.
In some cases however, detailed discussions and repeated information about an upcoming assessment can be anxiety provoking and overwhelming for the person with cognitive/behaviour changes. This is particularly the case when the person does not notice the changes themselves.
In such cases, we recommend family members avoid giving excessive explanations or attempts to convince the person about the changes that are noticed.
Instead, remind your relative of the appointment only close to the time (e.g. the night before), try to keep information positive (e.g. mention how friendly the SMS staff appear on the website!), and focus on the potential for beneficial treatment/advice to support the person to continue to live and manage well at home.
To assist in our information gathering, it is very helpful for attending family members to give some thought to the following in preparation for their relative’s first appointment:
– The main changes you have noticed in your loved one, such as differences in them now compared to 10 years ago
– Any areas of concern in daily life, such as difficulty with tasks and activities they once found easy, and changes in behaviour
– The timeframe over which changes occurred and whether they are worsening, stable or improving
– Any factors that you feel are relevant such as medical issues, mood issues, major life changes
With the patient’s consent we involve family members at various stages of assessment and management. This may include having family complete questionnaires detailing any changes observed, participating in clinical interviews and assessments, and in follow up and education sessions as desired.