ECT for depressed dementia sufferer?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by sheila b, Jan 24, 2015.

  1. sheila b

    sheila b Registered User

    Dec 10, 2012
    West Yorkshire
    Mum was diagnosed with combined Vascular dementia and Alzheimer's back in Oct 2010. She has suffered from depression on and off for over 50 years. She moved into residential care in Nov 2013 and was relatively settled for around 10 months, but since October just gone her depression has returned with a vengeance. She is refusing most food and drinks very little. Her Psychiatrist has visited several times, and has now suggested Mum might benefit from a stay in a mental health unit, with the possibility of a course of ECT treatment. I never went down the route of obtaining lasting power of attorney, so effectively the decision may be taken out of my hands. I would be really interested to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience, particularly if anyone has had a loved one who has gone through this treatment, and what the results were. I am certain that Mum would decline the treatment if she had the mental capacity to do so.
  2. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    I would be horrified at the idea that a Psychiatrist could even think of ECT as a possible therapy.
    The general anaesthetic required is sufficient reason for it to be avoided besides any other reason.

    I would insist on a best interest meeting to ensure NO such treatment is given without rigid enquiries.

    Speak up loudly, mention lack of capacity.
    All clinicians are required to justify their decisions and where incapacity is part of the equation they MUST adhere to the Mental Capacity Act...if they wish to proceed against what you say would have been your mother's wishes and indeed your wishes they will have to apply to the Court of Protection to proceed.

    I suggest you mention..'Best Interest meeting' 'Mental Capacity Act' and 'Dispute and Court of Protection' to the Psychiatrist and inform him you want NO such treatment undertaken until there has been a best interest meeting and EVEN THEN, you will appeal to the Court of Protection for a ruling.

  3. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    Sadly it seems we're not out of the dark ages yet:( I am horrified that any Dr can consider administering ECT to a dementia sufferer. Yes I have personal experience of it being administered to close relative s and friends and have witnessed it professionally being administered and cannot describe how strongly from the depth of my being I am against this.

    Yes, they may witness a very short lived positive effect but they never, in my experience follow up long enough nor listen to those close who can verify how much it can change the already suffering person detrimentally, are they there with the extra help and support? I doubt it.

    I would put your wishes and what you believe would be your Mum's too, in writing and send a copy to every relevant person, GP, SW, PALS, and anyone else you consider relevant in your Mum's care. In my view it is long past the time this barbaric practice is stopped.

    Wish you well as you fight for your Mum
  4. Soobee

    Soobee Registered User

    Aug 22, 2009
    I'm horrified by this suggestion. We still don't know enough about ECT to use it on anyone who has a disease of the brain.
  5. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    I don't know about the legalities, but I would have thought the move in itself, and the treatment, could be very distressing for anyone with dementia. Is the treatment suggested partly because she is refusing food? I may be in a minority of one here, but choosing whether to eat is just about the only choice someone with dementia usually has left once they are in residential care, and personally I think they should be allowed that choice.
  6. CeliaThePoet

    CeliaThePoet Registered User

    Dec 7, 2013
    Buffalo, NY, USA
    ECT was recommended for my extremely depressed/suicidal mother who is 85, as no medicines have ever eased her depression. I've done a great deal of research on it and would consider it as an inpatient course since we are at a stage of last resort. (The sedation is very worrying, but studies show that a remarkable recovery can be made with this treatment.) In your mother's case, from what you have described, I do not think it is merited. Have they tried more than ten medicines? Is she suicidal or a danger to others?
  7. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Just amazed that someone would suggest ECT as a possibility for a dementia sufferer. What does your mother's consultant or gp think? Do not allow this to happen.
  8. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    This sounds dreadful to me.

    As a previous severely depressed survivour I have seen people who responded very well to ECT treatment, but for a patient with dementia.....?

    Its just wrong
  9. sheila b

    sheila b Registered User

    Dec 10, 2012
    West Yorkshire
    Thanks Witzend. I think the suggestion of the treatment is mainly regarding the refusal of food. I totally agree that choosing not to eat is exactly that - a choice, and I also feel that the choice should be respected. Thanks again.
  10. Peegee

    Peegee Registered User

    Jan 22, 2015
    About 6 years ago my aunt was given several ECT treatments for geriatric depression and It was dreadful to see this lively, chatty, funny lady become completely apathetic and unable/unwilling to communicate at any level with us. She was anxious and sad. I don't know if the treatment would have worked in the end as she died in the mental hospital with a DVT due, I think, to her sitting on her own all day long. I was horrified when I found out that they still carried out ECT at all and I saw no positives from its use on my lovely aunt.
  11. sistermillicent

    sistermillicent Registered User

    Jan 30, 2009
    It sounds barbaric, and I agree that the risk of a general anaesthetic alone is great, never mind the treatment itself.
    Being of suspicious mind I would want to be very sure that the psychiatrist was not involved in some research project into the effects of ECT on a patient with dementia.
    not that it would make any difference, I would still fight it.
  12. MReader

    MReader Registered User

    Apr 30, 2011
    My husband's psychiatrist suggested ECT for him about 4 years ago - following a stroke which caused his dementia & depression. It was probably a last resort as she had already treated him with all sorts of anti-depressants, none of which worked.
    (My mother had this treatment in the 50's & left her very 'peculiar' for the rest of her long life)
    So when it was suggested for my husband, I spoke with our GP, our contact at the local Alzheimer's Society & the family who all said it is a bad idea - leaving aside the general anaesthetic issue.
    I discussed it again with his psychiatrist & very firmly told her that I did not want my husband to be put through that type of treatment & it was never spoken of again.
    Did her psychiatrist tell you what would happen in the future if she has this treatment - how will they follow this up.
  13. sheila b

    sheila b Registered User

    Dec 10, 2012
    West Yorkshire
    Thanks all for your comments and some very sound advice. Me and my sister have a meeting with the Psychiatrist again on Tuesday, and I definitely feel much more informed now.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.