Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the brain and nervous system (neurologist).

It's a good idea to arrive at your appointment well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and to know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down any unusual symptoms as you experience them, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes you can recall. Ask family members or friends to help you to ensure your list is complete.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
  • Ask a family member or friend to come with you. Even in the best circumstances, it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone with you can help you remember everything that was said.
  • Bring a notepad and pen or pencil to jot down the points you want to be sure to remember later.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor, as well as ensure that you cover everything you want to ask. For amnesia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
  • Will my memory ever come back?
  • What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Do I need to restrict any activities?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home? What websites do you recommend?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did you first notice your memory loss?
  • Did you experience any other symptoms at that time?
  • Were you involved in any trauma? For example, a car accident, violent collision in sports or an assault?
  • Did an illness or another event seem to trigger the memory loss?
  • Does anything help improve your memory?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your memory loss?
  • Are the memory problems intermittent or constant?
  • Has the memory loss stayed the same or is it getting worse?
  • Did the memory loss come on suddenly or gradually?
Oct. 11, 2011