how long does it all take


Registered User
Feb 8, 2008
I am trying to decide if my dad has alzheimers or not, he is in denial and is forgetting names, repeating himself, loosing things, using a diary, getting very angry etc and ots of other signs.

sometimes I look through the symptoms mentioned on here and think he must be and other days I think not.

What I am trying to find out is how long does it take to get worse,its been like this for a few years possibly 4 or more and if it is getting worse its very gradual


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Hi Rob

I'm afraid no-one can answer that question but a consultant.

Some forms of dementia progress very slowly, others very quickly. And all the signs your dad is showing could be AD, or a number of other things.

If you are really worried, you should make an appointment for your dad to see a GP, and ask for a referral for tests.

In the meantime, this thread will give you some idea of the stages, though people do fluctuate between stages, and there is no timescale.

Linda Mc

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
Nr Mold
Oh! Rob if only we knew. Every case is different depending on what type of dementia it is.

With my husband looking back he had shown symptoms for a few years before we sought help. He has now been diagnosed 4 years and it has been a slow progression but at his visits to the memory clinic every six months he is always a little worse than the previous visit.

You will have to see if he agrees to being seen by GP and then assessed. I told my husband we were seeing Dr about his memory but other TP members used other time for a general check up ,flu jab, BP check etc and then raised the problem with Dr. Perhaps you can speak to the Dr first to raise your concerns that is what I did.

I know you will have lots of support and help from other members.

Welcome to TP.

Linda x
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Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello rob,

Like Linda, I now believe my husband was developing Alzheimers 6 years before he was finally diagnosed. His decline has continued to be quite slow and gradual.

I kept a diary for a few months before I went to our GP. I was able to show him times and dates of worrying incidents, changes in patterns of behaviour and other areas of concern.

Can I suggest you do the same and visit your father`s GP by yourself. Even if your father`s GP will not discuss him with you s/he will listen and perhaps advise on follow up action.

Take care xx


Registered User
Feb 8, 2008
thanks for that, I know he wont admit to it and I did ring the doctor a couple of years ago but he was quite dismissive and said that he couldnt do much about it


Registered User
Mar 3, 2008

Hi Rob,

My father too was showing the same symptoms and I ven took him to the doctor asking were they signs of Alzheimer's . Unfortunately he brused them aside. Anyway after six months my dad got lost and when we found him he was confirmed by the doctor that he has alzheimers. I just want to say that please dont take a chance. What we went through was terrible.Being in Pakistan things are very differnt and weak here. But Iwish u all the best and a helathy life to ur dad.



Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Purely my own thoughts here. Nowt scientific.

On the subject of how long it all takes, it seems to me that there are two options, given that in reality there is no way of our knowing:

1. take the time you think it might take and multiply by 4

2. take the time you think it might take and divide by 4

Take those two calculations and use them as rules of thumb for your expectations.

So, if you think 4 years, calculation 1 gives you 16 years [hey, that is around where my Jan is at present].

Calculation 2 gives you 1 year, and in some cases a rapid onset does happen, especially if diagnosis has been long delayed.

When a loved one has a dementia, we all have to have plans for different eventualities, and very short term or very long term are part of that.

In reality, the distribution of 'how long it takes' for all dementia patients is probably what is known as a normal distribution. So, relatively few at the 1-2 year level, relatively few at the 16 year level, and most somewhere in between.

I'm no expert, just thinking here.....


Registered User
Nov 7, 2004
Hi Rob

You’re asking one of those questions to which there is no simple answer.

My experience was that I discovered mum was forgetful, repetitive, and could not grasp anything new, when dad died. I first thought it was grief, but now realise dad had been shielding her problem for several years.

I went with mum to the doctors for her six month check up for 4 years, asking for help with her memory problems each time. The change in her was slow, and mum always turned on the charm with the doctor and I was always told it was just old age.

Eventually it was the Surgery Nurse (taking blood) who got the doctor to take things seriously. Mum did not recognise her, though they had known each other for 10 years.

After a series of tests AD was diagnosed and the decline continued for a further 4 years before mum was no longer safe to live on her own, (with three Carers a day), and went into an EMI home where she has been for 18 months.

Though everyone is different I hope my experience indicates to you that often it is a few years between the major events. Also you should not feel guilty if you find it difficult to get any professional moving…that is the way it is for many people.

By the way, I expect you will have already checked that your dad has an Enduring / Lasting Power of Attorney so that you can look after the financial affairs?

Best wishes



Registered User
Aug 9, 2007
N E England
sometimes I look through the symptoms mentioned on here and think he must be and other days I think not.

I used to think like that all the time in the beginning, as you will realise from other peoples posts there are good & bad days.

I did ring the doctor a couple of years ago but he was quite dismissive and said that he couldn't do much about it

Another dismissive doctor that can't be bothered. :mad: I wrote to my Dad's GP twice. The first letter just resulted on my Dad going for physical tests, blood urine etc. He was declared fit & healthy or so he told me and the appointments stopped. My second letter was much stronger & went into much more detail of the problems he was having. This resulted in a referral to a memory clinic, posted to him out of the blue which he found quite worrying at the time. He was assessed & diagnosed by the clinic via a CT scan they sent him for.


Registered User
Feb 17, 2008
Another dismissive doctor that can't be botheredvery true after 2trs of struggling my dad finally admitted he copuld not cope with my step mum to the doc his reply was what do you want me to do. I was so mad I phoned socail services within 2 weeks he has help and she is going for a assesment so.
If you are at all worried keep on at them, so days are worse than others it is one long rollercoaster
good luck


Registered User
Jul 10, 2007
It couldnt have been more different for me getting mum in for tests but then I knew Mums GP from nursing.

However I do think that Mum had dementia way before I noticed because I was working and my day was caring for her, after dad died I then noticed as I had care of Mum.

If a doctor is dismissive be very firm as its HIS/HER job to help.
Dont take no for answer and if needed paraphrase him such as, 'So I am telling you that my mum/dad may have a problem and you are telling me that you arent going to do anything?' and
'Ok Docotor can I have that in writing please?'
All the time smile sweetly at them.

These are tricks we learn as nurses to give the docotors a kick up the backside ;)


Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
If you have concerns and the GP will not listen then make a referral direct to social services who will act on your behalf and ensure a diagnosis is made. My mother was in denial that there was anything wrong with her and the GP would not listen to me and other concerned relatives.