Seeing GP tomorrow - how to handle it

We have been suspecting the ‘onset’ (I’m really not sure what stage we’re at) of Dementia in my 85 year old Mum for a couple of years. Looking back past that, there has been a decline and some odd behaviour & gradual memory problems for possibly 4-5 years. Mum has been in complete denial (I am now aware that this can actually be a symptom) despite her memory problems become worse by the week and she will argue about every issue we flag up. She was refusing to see a doctor (about anything & she has no other medical problems). She is (was) still driving despite several minor accidents recently (she blamed everyone else & seems to think that it’s OK to scrape or knock another vehicle if “it’s in the way”)! I was finding Mum pretty much impossible to deal with Or spend any time with due to the constant repetition & arguments, & asked my Brother to come down from Scotland to assess the situation. We live in the South & he hasn’t seen Mum for almost a year.
The upshot of this was he took her out in her car with her driving, decided she was dangerous and took her car keys. He then left & went back up to Scotland with the keys. All hell has broken loose, of course, but as I am in agreement with his actions I have told her that we will not even consider giving her the keys back unless she has an assessment with her GP and a driving assessment (this is a lie As we have no intention of giving back the keys!).
She has therefore agreed to have a “Mental” (not a ‘medical’ as she doesn’t want to be prodded & poked around!). We have LPA for health & welfare & I have spoken to the GP & explained my concerns re. Dementia & he has made an appointment for her to go in (with me) tomorrow for a mini mental state exam & a chat.
I’m now worrying that she will go ballistic if he mentions memory issues or the D word. She will accuse me of tricking her & that all I want is her dead so I can have all her money (I get accused of this near enough on a daily basis). I’m worried that she will refuse any further referral for a Dementia assessment at the local Memory Clinic, & I am also worried that she will actually somehow manage to pass the MMSE & we will then be back to square one.
I have found her virtually impossible to be with recently and if either of these scenarios occur then I might just have to walk away, phone Social Services & tell them that she’s a potentially vulnerable person & that I’m unable to help further.
Any advice on how I can make this appointment & it’s outcome easier to explain to Mum would be appreciated.

Sounds like it was a good thing re your brother and her car keys!! If necessary book her a driving assessment- there is no way she will suddenly be able to pass and then at least she can blame the examiner and not you.

I don’t really know how you can help her to accept the D word - I don’t think anyone wants to hear they have D or memory problems!

However, when the GP does her assessment you could try the tack that a memory clinic’s role is to maximise someone’s memory and be ready with some suggestions that might help her - get these off the Alzheimer’s association website if the memory clinic doesn’t make suggestions.

Hopefully others with experience of a caree with dementia will be along to advise.


Hello Mrs TiggyWinkle
Not sure how much I can help. I would not let anyone, from cleaners to consultants use the word dementia in front of my husband. It distressed him. Wonder if you can request they don’t use that word?
Also when he had an assessment, I realized he was being asked about things from years ago, which he remembered. Be aware of that.

Hello Mrs TW. A lot depends on the GP who sees your Mum. If they have anything about them they will just gently mention memory problems. Our scenario was different to yours as my Mum knew about a year before she was diagnosed that she had dementia. She knew her memory was worse, her handwriting had declined terribly and she felt different. She took herself to the GP (without telling me) but she was able to answer the very basic questions he asked her so he said she was fine.

The GP will refer your Mum to a psychiatrist for a proper assessment if they think there is a chance she has dementia. Let us know how you get on.

It may help to record mum getting angry, on your phone, and anything odd she says. Others have found this helpful, as some have managed to fool doctors by putting on an act. Keep a diary/ notebook and record unusual behaviour.

Just a little update. Mum saw the GP, all went surprisingly OK. She scored low enough on the MMSE to warrant a referral to the Memory Clinic, & will be having blood test tomorrow.
The D word was mentioned & got no reaction! I wonder whether Mum knew full well that she has a problem as she expressed an element of surprise at the result, but also a degree of acceptance/resignation. She seems anxious to have the Memory Clinic appointment ASAP.
The GP also suggested that she ought not to be driving, which again she accepted, despite a bit of grumbling.
I’m now a bit sad. Although it’s kind of proved that I was right, I’m sad for the loss of my clever Mum. All I am left with is a totally dotty old lady, and I fear for what the future holds for her.

I know exactly how you feel! I looked at my Mum when the psychiatrist said she had Alzheimers and she just looked resigned to it and said “I knew something was wrong.” I did feel sad but the doctor said he could arrange for Mum to have some medication which might slow it down a bit and she was totally positive about it. try not to worry too much, see if you can get the medication and take it a day at a time. Xx