Dealing with the process of diagnosis

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Richard P, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. Richard P

    Richard P Registered User

    Dec 3, 2007
    2
    Tunbridge Wells
    My mother is exhibiting signs of dementia, and this Thursday she has an appointment with (I think) a psychologist with a local dementia team. My father, who is her primary carer and is finding the situation very difficult, is very nervous about the effect on her. He is worried about how to cope with the actual process of the appointment itself - what to tell Mum, how she will react, that she will become upset etc. Both my sister and I hope to be able to be there.

    On the one hand, of course I understand that Mum is the patient, and is entitled to information about her condition. But on the other, it seems cruel to inflict unnecessary suffering on her, if we can reasonably avoid it.I would be very grateful for advise as to how to cope.
     
  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Hello Richard and welcome to Talking Point

    We often have discussions here about "to tell" or "not to tell" and there isn't a consenus by any means. However, you're not even at that stage I don't think. I would be inclined to simply say that this is an appointment with a doctor because you're concerned about her memory problems. A lot of people go from start to finish with "memory problems". You might, if you haven't already done it, try and get a list to the doctor about specific issues she's having - it can be stressfull for everyone if you have to talk about such things in front of the person. I assume though, as you have this referral, most of what will happen will be a short test (the MMSE) to determine the extent of her problems, and possible, a referral for a CT scan to see if they can come up with a specific organic reason for them. Quite possibly, much of what is said will go straight over her head but your father is probably going to be distressed whatever the outcome. Whether she's given a diagnosis at that time, and whether she understands what is means is very much down to the individual doctor - some of them are very upfront and some aren't, and you don't know what you're going to get.

    I wouldn't mention the appointment to her far in advance - she may have memory problems but somehow these thing seem to stick. In fact, if she is a worrier, it might be better not to mention it until the day, but that depends on the person.
     
  3. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,584
    Kent
    Hello Richard.

    I can only second what Jennifer has said.

    In addition, it`s good to hear you are going as a family. You all know your mother as well as anyone and you can protect her from anything you feel will cause her upset.

    When my husband had his first appointment, the consultant told us his scan had shown brain shrinkage, did the MMSE test and offered a prescription for Aricept. As soon as Aricept was mentioned, it confirmed my fears. Alzheimers or dementia wasn`t mentioned. The whole appointment went over my husband`s head.
     
  4. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    Yes, memory problems was how we handled it, and that seemed to be effective.

    Thats great because the other key thing is for the person to understand they are fully supported by family.

    Final piece of initial advice - take it one step at a time, day by day.
     
  5. Taffy

    Taffy Registered User

    Apr 15, 2007
    1,314
    Hello Richard, and welcome to TP.

    This is the approach I adopted with my mum and it worked well. Having said that, mum at no point thought there was or is anything wrong with her other than a bit of a memory problem all related to the aging process. I can see that this approach wouldn't work with every sufferer and that some people wouldn't be comfortable not telling the sufferer the facts.

    I think that you are a very supportive family and you all know your mum the best. I don't feel there is a wrong or right way only what you all feel is the best for your mum. I hope that the appointment goes well. Regards Taffy
     
  6. Richard P

    Richard P Registered User

    Dec 3, 2007
    2
    Tunbridge Wells
    Many thanks to all for helping with this. The appointment is tomorrow, and my father has told her it is for memory problems, which she seems to be fine with - indeed, he said when we spoke yesterday that she was quite excited about it! When I checked, it turns out that it is with a registar psychiatrist, not, as I originally thought, a psychologist.
     
  7. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,584
    Kent
    Dear Richard,
    Please let us know how you get on. Good luck.
     
  8. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Ditto to what Sylvia saud. Word of warning - if she's excited about it, she may feel that there's a "cure" available, so don't be surprised if there's a real dip afterwards, whatever happens.
     
  9. Taffy

    Taffy Registered User

    Apr 15, 2007
    1,314
    Good Luck, with the appointment. Regards Taffy.
     

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