How do you know if someone has alzheimers?


Registered User
Sep 12, 2003
I had quite a distressing phone call tonight from my brother who is concerned about our father. He seems to believe that my father is exhibiting signs of Alzheimers.He's done some research (via the internet and with friends who have been in similar circumstances) and related incidents to me. I have also witnessed some of these incidents myself.
I do not live nearby and only see my parents occasionaly because of the distance and whilst I agree that if my brother is worried then something should be done I don't want to 'label' my Dad at this early(?) stage.

What are the symptoms?
How do we as a family find out?
Should we involve the GP?

Any help would be very gratefully received!



Registered User
Jun 28, 2003
South coast, UK

I'm sorry to hear about your Dad. :(

I'm no expert, I'm just another person like you having problems with my Mum. I'm sure other more experienced people here will be able to advise you better but here goes...

Your first port of call for basic information should probably be the Factsheets on the top left of this page or you can click here.

There is a lot of information in the Factsheets regarding the types of symptoms associated with dementia, how dementia is diagnosed etc.

Have you or your brother talked to your Dad about what's worrying you? Has your Dad made any comments about noticing problems with his memory or anything? The reason I ask is that if your Dad is noticing problems he may be fairly open to the idea of going to a GP, to look into what is wrong. It will be a big help if he is keen to get to the bottom of things too.

From what I understand, there are medical problems that can cause memory problems and other such symptoms that can be treated or managed fairly simply. So don't assume the worse - try and get your Dad seen by his GP. My experience of the diagnosis process is that it can be quite a long haul, so the sooner you start the better.

I'll leave it there for now but, check out the Factsheets as they are written by professionals. I'm sure other people will give you some pointers here too.

Take care,
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Registered User
May 28, 2003
Hi Jane, welcome to talking point.

I can only repeat the excellant advice from Andy.

The varying symptoms of dementia, are a progressive decline in the clients ability to remember, reason and think, language and communication skills, and change in personality.

You and the rest of the family can only find out with Dads consent when he does, by firstly, visitng the GP to rule out any other causes for the changes you are noticing in him, and then if necessary, by the tests that should follow with the appropriate consultants.

Finally the GP is, usually the only person that can instigate all of the above, so yes, get Dad to see him/her asap, as Andy says, hopefully your Dad will want to find out what is causing, at least, his families concern.

Good luck


Registered User
Sep 8, 2003
Hi Jane

I don't know if this will help. Hope it does??

My mother in law lived alone with none of her children near by. She had always been a bit 'dotty' so when she started doing 'strange' things, we didn't really pay too much attention to it....We didn't see her very often but kept in touch by phone. Finally it became obvious that something was wrong. She would ring us in the middle of the night and ask us to go round and put the chickens in the coup, (we live 40 miles away??) She would panic over silly things. Her memory became terrible. At first we couldn't understand why she couldn't follow basic instructions. We just thought that she simply wasn't listening to us. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that she was showing signs of some form of dementia. (Don't ask me how....we just knew)

We were now faced with the problem of how to deal with it....The main problem was that she thought everything was ok...How could we tackle the subject with her when we lived so far away and could not monitor her properly on a daily basis. We were all burying our heads in the sand hoping that it would all 'blow over' and come to nothing...which of course it didn't.

Over two years later fate stepped in when she suffered a nasty fall in January this year, which resulted in a hospital stay. The Doctors seemed to be more concerned with her 'mental state' than her physical injuries. They concluded on the spot that she had got some form of dementia. On her discharge she was becoming a danger to herself. She was totally disorientated and confused. She was leaving the gas on and forgetting to light it etc... It was at this point that we felt she should come and stay with us to 'recuperate'.

We registered her with our local GP who in turn referred her to a consultant. She was confirmed as having 'early stages' of Alzheimers on the first visit in April. She is currently being prescribed 'Aricept' which will hopefully slow down any further degeneration.

My advice would be to contact your local GP first. You or your brother could forward a letter to your Dad's GP expressing your concerns in advance. I would also suggest that someone accompany your dad on his appointment. As far as I am aware, there are basic tests that a GP can carry out to establish whether a referal to a specialist would be neccessary.

From my own experience, I feel that the earlier a diagnosis can be made the better. Due to the 'early stage' diagnosis, we have been able to talk to her about it and even laugh about it with her. We have also been able to ensure that any legal matters are dealt with.

Don't bury your head in the sand like we did for so long. It's been frightening to think that she could still be on her own ..eating raw uncooked food, not washing for day's on end etc etc. (and this is 'early stages') Yes she is driving us crazy, but ultimately she could of blew herself up and taken her next door nieghbours with her if fate (and not us) had not intervened. More importantly we now have a reason to explain her 'odd' behaviour instead of just thinking that she was being silly all the time.

Sorry to go on, but I hope that in some small way my experience may help.


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