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Elderly Mother - Showing signs of Dementia - What to do?

edited 4 December 2018 at 10:45AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
103 replies 25.5K views
TammerTammer Forumite
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edited 4 December 2018 at 10:45AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
Hi,
My mother is getting old (late 60s - which is not actually that old but hey) and we both live in Scotland (not with each other).

Over the years, my mother has been what could be regarded as "strange". Her home is dishevelled and she has been very outspoken and is a bit of a hoarder. Over the last 6 years, following the loss of her dog (a lovely golden lab) she seems to have gone steadily downhill. Symptoms include:
  • complete incontinence
  • odd / inappropriate birthday presents e.g. baby toys for primary school kid.
  • Thinking she is a different age to her actual age.
  • Becoming increasing withdrawn from society - she is prickly and has steadily fallen out with almost everyone she's ever known.
  • Having a bad fall and needing hospital treatment.


I am worried that she may be starting to suffer from an age related degenerative condition such as dementia, Alzheimer's or similar and may start to lose her independence.

I am not sure how I can make sure that she gets appropriate medical treatment or social care - and if this is necessary at this stage.


I have asked her to see her doctor but when she goes she tends to only mention new symptoms and not incontinence for example.


I have asked to go to the doctor with her but she refuses. I assume I should phone the doctor's surgery and ask. I am not sure what questions I should be asking them and what to be doing generally.


My brother and I went round earlier (she lives on the other side of the city) and cleaned / tidied up a bit, but this is only scratching the surface.


Has anyone been in a similar situation and did they find any help or guidance from anywhere?

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Replies

  • edited 25 November 2018 at 6:38PM
    elsienelsien Forumite
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    edited 25 November 2018 at 6:38PM
    It is not unusual for older women to develop some urinary incontinence and to be embarrassed to mention it to the GP. Or to not realise that potentially something can be done about it. So it depends on what you mean by "complete incontinence" - urinary or doubly incontinent?
    Being messy and outspoken is also not a sign of declining mental faculties (otherwise I'm in trouble.)

    The fall depends on why/how it happened - any of us can trip over things once in a while.
    How is she managing on a day to day basis with food, money, shopping etc?

    For the concerns around her memory and mental health, her GP can't talk to you without breaking her right to confidentiality. But there is nothing to stop you writing to them with your concerns so they are aware although they won't be able to respond directly to you. They may be able to rule out any physical causes of confusion. Writing would be better than phoning. Is the hoarding getting to the point where it's a danger to her - fire hazard, for example?

    I don't know the Scottish system, but any social care assessments in England would require your mother's co-operation at this point. Does she actually want it?
    It may be more effective to start some gentle conversations over a period of time about any concerns that she has about her health and how she is managing - if she perceives that family are taking over it may well lead her to put up more barriers. Who in the family is best placed to do this?

    This may be useful for future reference:
    http://careinfoscotland.scot/topics/how-to-get-care-services/
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • lincroft1710lincroft1710 Forumite
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    I think your mother has been suffering for some time rather than starting to suffer. Age UK may be able to help.
  • PollycatPollycat Forumite
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    Not sure about Scotland but in England there is Adult Social Servicea.
    Check it out in your area.
  • Skibunny40Skibunny40 Forumite
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    Would she let you go with her to the doctors? If not, it's probably worth calling the surgery and explaining your concerns - they're surprisingly helpful, without breaking patient confidentiality ( been through similar with both my parents).

    Power of Attorney makes life so much easier. I understand it's a tricky subject to raise but it's something you need to consider sooner rather than later unfortunately.
  • edited 25 November 2018 at 7:20PM
    PrimrosePrimrose Forumite
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    edited 25 November 2018 at 7:20PM
    I think if you write to her GP the best suggestion is to try and get your mum in for an appointment is for the GP position it as a one if the regular checkups to which she is entitled and invite her to bring a relative with her if she would feel more cofortable doing this.

    Sadly you can,t force her to have anybody accompany her, even if she goes. Are you female?. She probably would never have a male accompany her.if she needed to talk about incontinwnce.

    Does anybody in the family buy her incontinence pads? Yiu could,position it that the surgery could help her with advice in this area if she is struggling to keep herself clean.

    Can the family organise a cleaning day and surreptitiously arrange to get rid of some of her clutter? She possibly needs a social services assessment but hard to organise if she won't agree.

    Also do try and get power of attorney set up quickly in case she loses mental capacity. Yiu could,position this to her it would enable you to look after her affairs temporarily if she ended up in hospital again. If she does lose mental capacity this will be too late to arrange and having to organise guardianship will be a lengthy and far more restricted process.
  • TammerTammer Forumite
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    Hi.
    Thanks for the replies so far - very helpful. I will write to the Doctor as suggested.
    I actually already have Power of Attorney. At the moment it is a piece of paper sitting in pile at the bottom of my stairs. I'm not actually sure what it enables me to do? I will need to dig it out and read it properly.
  • elsienelsien Forumite
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    Is it just for finances or also for health and welfare?

    It depends how they have been set up. Some allow you to do things on your mother's behalf while she still has capacity, with her permission. Others don't kick in until the person loses capacity.
    Certainly worth getting it out to check what it says and whether it's been registered.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • PrimrosePrimrose Forumite
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    The p of A is useless until it has actually been sent off and registered with office of Oublic Gurdin, or whoever it is in. Scotland so better get moving. Here.in the UK that process take a minimum of about 8 or 9 weeks.
  • RambosmumRambosmum Forumite
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    Power of Attorney (for health and welfare) will make no difference unless your mother has lost capacity to make a specific decision (capacity is time and decision specific).


    The GP will not be able to share information with you without your mothers permission, however you can share information with them, written (email or posted letter) is usually best and ask that they call her in for a review to discuss the content of your letter.


    Lots of things can cause confusion and mental deterioration in older people, and the GP will run tests to rule out the more common and treatable conditions (such as b12 deficiency, thyroid issues, anaemia UTI) etc. One these have been ruled out your mum will be sent for a memory assessment which may include an MRI as well as verbal and sometimes written assessments. It can take 6 - 9 months for a dementia diagnosis so it is best to start early.


    You could contact adult social care, but your mother would need to consent to an assessment, and also consent to support should she be eligible. Adult social care will not diagnose however.
  • bugsletbugslet Forumite
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    When Mr Bugs mind was going, later diagnosed as dementia, I made an appointment with his doctor. Obviously there is a limit to what the doctor can do at that point in terms of patient confidentiality and the willingness of the patient to accept help. However, I felt that it registered the concerns I had as a close relative and fortunately the doctor was willing to note those worries and all in all it built up a picture of decline that helped further down the line.

    As Elsien mentioned, the physical symptoms may not be indicative of a mental issue, but I also realise that it's difficult to convey the small things that make you worried about someone that you know well, which puts you in the best place to spot the changes.

    Good luck.
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