It may seem overwhelming at times, the number of tests required to find an answer to a medical question or to diagnose or monitor an ongoing diagnosis…

Here are a few tips to deal with testing and making it through in one piece. Knowing about a test in advance and understanding what will take place is the first step in relieving test anxiety.

Did you know that an MRI can be open? Or that your favorite music can be played in the MRI machine to allay anxiety? A CAT Scan sounds ominous but really it is a non-invasive test and does not involve enclosed spaces like an MRI. A CAT Scan can be with or without contrast the important thing to know is that when contrast is given intravenously, it can cause flushing and the sensation of warmth and that is totally normal.

Imagine if you didn’t know that before – you would think OH my something is very wrong. Blood tests can also provoke anxiety who likes being stuck? A good tip is don’t look- have the phlebotomist tell you when they are going to insert the needle but don’t watch. Watching often causes us to tense up which tightens the muscles and creates a more difficult blood draw experience.

For a resident with dementia a care giver with whom they are familiar or a family member is the best way to assuage the fears they have and when tests such as blood work, X-rays and ultrasounds can be done in the residents own environment it changes the entire experience decreasing confusion and thus decreasing the fear response of the resident.

Finally if a test is ordered and you don’t understand or wonder what it entails ask your physician or consult with your nurse. A little knowledge and advance preparation can help put those test anxiety blues to rest.