Help Needed getting Father-in-law diagnosed


Registered User
Feb 24, 2008
I am looking for advice and help. My father-in-law is, I would say, well beyond early dementia/Altzheimer's stages, but refuses to visit a doctor to be assessed.

This is causing my mother-in-law a considerable difficulty as we believe that there could be something that the doctor could give him to help ease his symptoms and of course, make it easier to live with him! He is a big man and flies off the handle as soon as anything is said or done that doesn't agree with him and we are beginning to think that he could become violent.

He is still driving although he no longer knows exactly how to find his destination and we feel that he is a danger not only to himself, but other road users.

The doctor says there is nothing that can be done if my father-in-law refuses to see him and the family feels that we are going round in circles.

How do we help father-in-law?


Registered User
Jan 29, 2008
Ashford, Kent

That is a tough one, because it's very difficult when they are in complete denial.

My Dad gave up driving 5 years ago because he started to notice that his memory was flagging a bit.

The way I 'sell' ideas to Dad, is by pointing out the benefits or implications to OTHERS.. not him.

Maybe you could all sit with him and say, he may well be right, and there may well be nothing wrong, but... if there is and he is driving, he may injure someone else - a child even!

Perhaps if he felt that he was getting things checked to prevent harm to others, he may go. Just a suggestion.

Best of luck.

Beverley x

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
How do we help father-in-law?
Hello Palmtree.

The first thing I can suggest is you aand your mother-in-law keep a diary of his behaviours for a month. This is what I did when My husband refused to see our GP.

The GP took it seriously and arranged an appointment for a diabetic check. Your FIL`s GP will perhaps be able to suggest a way to get him to the surgery.

I would be very concerned about his driving and would definitely make sure the GP knows about your FIL`s difficulties. This might force the GP to be a bit more cooperative with you and more supportive of your MIL.

I hope this helps.

Love xx


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Sylvia's diary idea has been used by a lot of people here with success - somehow being presented with a long list of problematic behaviours forces GPs who would be inclined to let it slide into being more (and I hate this word) proactive. Apart from anything else, they will find it hard to claim that they didn't know there was an issue if something happens. I believe that they actually have a legal duty to inform the licensing authorities if they have concerns regarding someone's driving when it is a health issue.

Violence due to dementia is pretty common I'm afraid. It's all very well to accept that it's the disease that's causing it, and there is no fault involved, but you still have to deal with the aftermath (or rather your MIL will have to). It may not be at this stage yet, but no one should have to live in fear. You may have to try to ensure that she has a method of exit should she need to - a cell phone, spare keys, an overnight bag in the car. It may be necessary to call the police or emergency social services and I think it's important to consider those possibilities - maybe not this month or the the next but sometime. That way she's not left at 1 in the morning panicking about what she can do.


Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
leigh lancashire
I can only reiterate Sylvias post.I wrote a letter to dads GP about our concerns with his behaviour and short term memory worked!dad was seen as a routine appointment and a quick assesment done,referred to consultant within weeks.push for it,its an entitlment for yourselves as well as relatives
love elainex

Margaret W

Registered User
Apr 28, 2007
North Derbyshire
Dear Palmtree

Everyone else is correct in their advice, but I would find out who his insurance company is, and point out to them that you are concerned about his driving ability, and they will probably insist on a medical check (at his expense) which he might not want to pay for, and might then admit that there is a problem.#

Eh, it is hard, you want him to carry on doing what he has always done for as long as possible, course you do, but if he is a risk to others, well it can't be ignored.

Hope you solve it.




Registered User
Feb 24, 2008
Thanks to everyone who has replied!

You have given us much to think about and a good deal of hope that we can begin to move FIL to get diagnosed, one way or another and also to make life for my MIL more comfortable.

I will let you know how we go!:)