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How can I tell my 83 year old friend she has dementia?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Jintyb, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. Jintyb

    Jintyb Registered User

    Jun 3, 2015
    I have an elderly friend who I go out and about with. She's 83 and lives by herself. I've known her for over 50 years and I regard her as my 'second mum'. She moved to live near me 7 years ago and she has no relatives close by. Over the last four years her memory has been getting worse and her hearing and sight are not good but she flatly refuses to have any checks. She forgets information given to her even after a short while. I am most concerned as she has recently 'misplaced' money and had her wallet stolen and she will not report it to the police. She gets extremely agitated at minor events and has often threatened to sue shops if they do not address her demands immediately. She has previously thrown me out of her house for suggesting eye/hearing tests and she is very vicious vocally. Last year we went on holiday for 3 nights with another friend and it was a catalogue of disasters. She was trying to scribble notes in the dark, 'lost' a ring and her handbag and she had a fall because she hadn't heard a warning shout that the wall was there. She also verbally assaulted me in front of a pub full of people. I really don't know where I go from here and would appreciate some advice. I am 60 next year and am registered disabled with mobility problems and clinical depression. I love my friend dearly but am finding this tough going. Any advice please?
  2. 100 miles

    100 miles Registered User

    Apr 16, 2015
    Hi Jintyb, you sound like a really good friend to have. Your poor friend does seem to have a lot of problems and dementia does sound like a possibility. Although if her hearing and/ or eyesight are failing it could explain part of her problems.
    I think you need to talk to her gp. They won't be able to talk to you about her health, but they can listen to your concerns. I am not sure whether she would go for a 'special health check that is designed for older patients' or whatever excuse you can provide. Although, even if she agreed 1) would she remember to go and 2) she would tell the gp everything is fine. grrrr.
    Secondly...is it possible to contact her relatives to let them know your concerns? Although this could backfire enormously if they charge in and tell her that you said she was forgetting everything. Dunno. Tricky. The last thing you want is to damage your relationship with your friend. But as a remote daughter, I know I appreciate it when people are keeping an eye on my mum and let me know their concerns,
    Sorry I can't be more helpful. Maybe others will have better ideas.
  3. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    hi, what a tricky situation. I agree, find out if you don't know, who her GP is and go and see them and just explain your concerns. You can make the appointment in her name and then explain once you arrive there. The GP won't be able to discuss the situation with you, although they do sometimes bend the rules, but they can listen to what you have to say.
    if you try to confront your friend directly she may well get paranoid and lose trust in you, as part of the illness, so best not to be the one who does it. You are wise to get it addressed though, it needs to be flagged up regardless of whether she will accept any help. Good luck, let us know how you get on.
  4. Jintyb

    Jintyb Registered User

    Jun 3, 2015

    Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately my friend has no relatives in Scotland and she doesn't keep in contact with her cousin in England. Sadly her husband passed away 30 years ago and her daughter (who was my best friend at school) sadly passed away 17 years ago. I am her closest person. She is going away this weekend for 7 nights with her Age Concern club. I am hoping someone will maybe notice and say something. She has put me down as her emergency contact and in some ways I hope they will notice. I know her GP surgery (not the same as mine) but I think she would go ballistic if they contact her. I was thinking along the lines of the GP sending out a letter inviting her for a general health check but her response would just be that she doesn't need to go! I am going to keep a record of her behaviour and also see how our 3 night holiday in July goes. I will also have 'back up' as we are visiting one of her old friends who realised that she was 'getting worse' and observed her verbal aggression towards me. I will then perhaps have to bite the bullet and speak with her about it (with someone else present). Thanks so much for your comments and advice x
  5. Bod

    Bod Registered User

    Aug 30, 2013
    Write her a letter, delivered by post?
    Speak to her GP.
    Find out any local help organisations.
    Don't be afraid to contact the police if she really "gets out of her tree". They can be the gateway to getting help, when all else fails.

  6. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    If you speak to the GP, which I think would be wise, they have many ways of getting around the initial contact with the patient and would also not say that you were involved. With Mum the GP visited and said he was doing a survey which the NHS/government were making everyone over 80 do. It was of course the dementia test.

    Unfortunately in some types of dementia, such as my Mum has, being in denial about it is part of the actual dementia, the logic which would tell someone they are not right goes and indeed they get very cross if you try to challenge them, but it is the illness that does that, so someone else has to intervene as the person cannot know what is happening to them.

    It is very hard in our society if you don't have any relatives. Please visit her GP. The Age Concern people won't know, I would think, whether she is receiving treatment for dementia and as so many elderly people have a degree of it, I wonder if they would think to flag it up with you?
  7. Jintyb

    Jintyb Registered User

    Jun 3, 2015
    Thanks again. When my friend returns from her week away I will visit her GP and see where we go from there. Last time she ranted at me (even though I was trying to help her) she said she never wanted to see me again and never to contact her again. She also said I didn't love her, which really hurt. In the 3 weeks that followed there was her birthday and Mothers Day. I respected her wishes but did send flowers for her birthday and a card for Mothers Day. It had really upset me, even though during her tirade I managed to stay calm. I phoned her 3 weeks later and we've been okay since then but I know it's only time before she kicks off again. I know it's not her fault and I only have her welfare at heart. Fingers crossed that I can move this forwards peacefully. Again thanks.
  8. Isabella41

    Isabella41 Registered User

    Feb 20, 2012
    Northern Ireland
    Jinty, I'm assuming that you and this lady had a previously great relationship so her recent change in behaviour is totally out of character for her. My own mum, while never having been the politest of women, turned into a totally foul mouthed individual. I was of course the brunt of all her wrath. I think it was something to do with the fact that she knew there was something wrong and was taking her frustration out on the one closet to her. I think this is probably the case with your friend too. She probably realises that she does have problems and is scared. Denial is a powerful tool and for many sticking their fingers in their ears and closing their eyes hoping it will all go away if their way of coping.
    I agree with others that a private word with the GP is the way to go. As others have said this will be an all too familiar scenario for the GP and so they will have the means to engage with your friend. If it turns out she has dementia they will then be able to offer her services.
  9. Cinder

    Cinder Registered User

    Dec 14, 2014
    Can I just say that some gps are happy to make house calls for 'difficult' elderly patients.
    It might worth asking.
    Maybe she'd accept the doctor
    if s/he was able to come to her?

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  10. Jintyb

    Jintyb Registered User

    Jun 3, 2015
    Thanks to all of you. I am going to leave approaching my friend's GP until after our holiday together at the end of July. I really don't want to upset her and spoil her time away. I will also be speaking with her friend in Shropshire when we visit her. She will be able to input her feelings of how my friend has deteriorated in the last year. My only concern is for my friend's wellbeing and welfare as I feel she is vulnerable, especially with money. I am so glad that I have been able to access this forum and discuss these issues with you all. I appreciate all your input and I hope you too are all coping with your own experiences of dementia. It has clarified in my mind what I need to do. Thank you.

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