History Taking

Taking a history from a person with suspected dementia

Sometimes people with early dementia are not aware of the decline in their memory or may simply attribute it to age related memory loss. It can help to speak to a close family member to obtain further information about the problems being experienced. 

You should consider how it might be best to obtain information from the patient and primary carer.  Depending on the circumstances, it might be best to talk to each person separately.

A separate interview may be needed if the family member is reluctant to discuss the memory issues while the patient is present. Alternatively, if the carer is rushing in to answer for the patient, continually correcting them or if they begin arguing about the personís current state of function, conducting separate interviews would be recommended.

This depends in large on personal preference of the doctor and also on the dynamics of each situation.

In this instance, Mrs Zheng did not want to embarrass or concern her husband too much by talking about his memory decline in front of him. It will be important to speak with Mrs Zheng separately about the changes she has noticed in her husbandís function.