How can I help my dad care for my mum properly?


Registered User
Jun 5, 2004
My mother is 78. My father is 84. She has steadily become more and more confused over the last few years. She has never been diagnosed with dementia. The problems is she refuses point blank to go to the doctor. She has arthritis (can hardly walk). She hardly eats and when she does its confort food chocolate/scones/cakes etc. If I mention maybe going to the doctor she will panic and start crying. its really distressing. My father who cares for her trys his hardest but it must get so difficult for him. She is and always was his best friend. They have never been apart for 52 years and most of their friends are dead now.

What can I do to help. I viit at least twice a week but I feel so guilty having conversations with my Dad because my Mum just gets confused or annoyed if she cant remember things. She has good days and bad. We cant force her to go to ger GP but we cant go on like we are.

Please help.


Registered User
May 20, 2004
Hello Dave

have you had any contact with her GP? My Aunt would not recognise any problems she had but we kept getting calls from concerned neighbours and friends who were witnessing her difficulties daily whereas we only saw her occasionally and she was - with hindsight - covering up well. As we had been through the same type of thing with my Dad (her brother - God help me if it is genetic!) I rang her GP and stressed that although he probably couldn't discuss her health with me we were concerned and I felt he should be aware of the symptoms so that if she should see him on a routine visit he could maybe ask a few more relevant questions. He was very understanding and did divulge that she had yet to collect a prescription that was allocated 3 months previous!

Fortunately - though that is perhaps a strange word to use - she was admitted to A&E and kept in overnight having been stopped when driving erratically and thought to be ill. This then forced her to see her GP in order to "get cleared to drive again" - at least that was the tale we told (sometimes I think I could become a serial liar). From there things escalated rapidly - it obviously helped that he had been fed the background first as he wasted no time in referring her to a specialist. The specialist was also wonderful and I would e-mail updates to him prior to each appointment.

You are in a very difficult situation in not being able to get her to see the GP herself but maybe you could arrange a visit at the surgery or at home) on the pretext that it was for your Dad? I'm sure the Doctor would understand the need for the deception - try to speak to him and if he isn't helpful then perhaps you will have a "nurse for the elderly" or someone similar in your area who would be willing to help?

Her condition is sadly unlikely to improve long term but for all your sakes you need support and even if the diagnosis is not a good one it helped us to know what we were dealing with and to know we were not imagining it.

Good luck



Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
The first stages of getting help are always a difficult time.

My local surgery once ran an MOT session for all registered patients over 50 years, and Jan and I went along together for some questions. Jan was not showing signs at that time, but it occurs to me that if you tell your mother that your surgery is doing the same, and that your Dad also has to go - she may be willing to go along.

Sad to have to make subterfuges, but frankly, anything that works is worth trying.

Pre-warn the GP of course as you will need to have that side ready set up.

Don't worry about the comfort food - it won't do harm at present and it is familiar to her. Only if she starts to experience weight loss should it become a concern.

You have to attack the challenges one at a time, otherwise they will overwhelm you!

Best wishes


Registered User
Jun 5, 2004
Thanks for your help.
I dont like lying to my mum but I think its probably the only way. I'l see what the GP says. She tends to get all upset even just going to the chiropodist though.


John Bottomley

Registered User
Apr 7, 2004

Definately worth getting the GP onboard. Most GP's will visit folks at home, if the reasons are clearly explained, which may be one way around the problem.

Depending on where you're living, some Trusts have memory clinics and services that visit people in their homes too.

With both arthritis causing poor mobility and dementia, I'd hope that she could get help within her own home . . .


Registered User
Jun 11, 2004
You have my sympathy, if no practical suggestions to help. I have joined this list for very similar reasons to you - my father is 87 and my stepmother (it is she who has dementia) is 75. He is the sole carer, fit (luckily) but very proud and resistant to all help. Things can't go on like this as she is inevitably getting worse and he older. I go there whenever I can but live 80 miles away, work full time and have a family. I just don't know what to do for the best. As I say, Dave, no help at all but I do find it comforting for some reason to know I am not alone with this situation.


Registered User
Mar 27, 2004
How can I help my dad

Margaret refused to see our GP when she first showed symtoms of Dementia. So I wrote down everything I felt was germaine and went to see the GP myself, gave him the screed to read. explaining that Margaret refused to visit.
He agreed that it sounded like some form of dementia and said tell her I haven't seen her for some time and would like to check her Blood Pressure.
She agreed to go and he did indeed check her blood pressure but also asked her a series of questions which made him decide to refer her to the specialist.
I find that if it produces the desired result a lie is quite admissable.
Hope this is of some help.