What should I ask to get a good referral for an Alzheimer’s specialist?

Judith London, MD
Another way to find an Alzheimer's specialist is to find a hospital or university sponsored memory clinic nearby. Geriatricians, neurologists, and psychologists are part of the staff who can offer a thorough assessment and diagnosis.
Dede Bonner
Health Education

You can find an Alzheimer’s specialist by asking your primary care physician or through family members, friends, an Alzheimer’s disease support group, or caregivers.


The following list includes questions to ask in two different scenarios. Use questions 1 and 2 when talking with someone with medical expertise. Use all the questions when talking with non-medical people. Most doctors’ offices will give you the names of several satisfied patients and caregivers whom you can call before you commit to regular visits. And be sure to find out first if this prospective doctor honors your medical insurance.

 1. Why are you recommending this doctor?

 2. How well do you know him or her?

 3. How satisfied are you with this doctor? In your opinion, what are this doctor’s strengths and     areas that need improvement?

 4. How well did this doctor communicate with you?

5. How well has this doctor kept you informed and encouraged you to ask questions?

6. Did this doctor openly respect your opinions and decisions? Did you ever feel the doctor was talking down to you?

7. How well has this doctor supported you over time?

8. Did this doctor include both the caregiver and the patient in the discussion?

9. How accessible was this doctor or office staff after hours or on short notice?

10. How well did this doctor’s office staff treat you? Did you ever feel frustrated because of office inefficiency or long wait times to see the doctor?

11. Do you trust this doctor enough to send your own family to him or her? Why or why not?

 You can’t assume that just because you’ve gotten a referral from your current doctor this new doctor will automatically be great. There are hundreds of potential reasons behind the referral. Caregiver Ellie of Farmington, Michigan, recalls, “I was shocked to learn that my doctor only referred this specialist because they were in the same office complex, but they didn’t even know each other.” The point is that you just don’t know until you ask.

Continue Learning about Alzheimer's Disease

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.