How to start to organise appropriate professional care


Registered User
Oct 19, 2005
Hello all, I wonder if anyone can help with some suggestions, or at least help me get my thoughts straight.

My wife's mother is 78 and has been losing her memory and judgement over the past couple of years. She is physically very fit and has not visited a doctor or dentist for over 40 years. She walks for miles, eats like a horse and is never under the weather. Her main problems are that her memory is now very poor (she still recognises her neighbours and those relatives she she's regularly) but forgets a conversation immediately after finishing it. This does not prevent her from having a strong will, however. She can't handle money, turns off and unplugs all appliances (fridge, radio etc) and has recently turned up ten miles from home, lost and confused. If left to her own devices, she does not wash or change her clothes and lives on custard creme biscuits.

Her son lives in the same town, and has been fantastic, providing daily care and organising her house in a way that allows her to stay at home. My wife and I live 300 miles away, and can only visit as time allows. My wife wants to do her share, but her mother refuses point blank to come to visit or leave her home, so we can only help when we visit for the weekend or during holidays. I don't think that we could manage her outside of her home surroundings anyway, she'd be confused and hazardous. My wife is very caring and is desperate to find a way she can help. I'm getting involved to try to work out the best way forward.

My concern is that her son can not continue to provide daily care 365/365, and we need to organise some sort of professional local care to lend a hand, at least on a respite basis. I am going to request a Community Care Assessment as realise that is a step we have to go through, but my experience of social services is that they are OK if you need meals on wheels or home help, but very poor at providing flexible 'supervsion' type of care. Neighbours are kind and keep an eye on my mother in law to an extent, but we need committed and reliable assistance.

If she was physically frail, residential care would be the obvious path, but while she's fit we want to keep her in her own home for as long as we can. Is there any agency who could help us to find a personal and adaptable home care regime to support during those periods when the family can't ? We've contacted the GP, but they are very busy, and as she is not physically ill, they offer no help. She has not been 'formally' diagnosed as having dementia to my knowledge, although power of attorney etc is in place.

If anyone has experience of a similar situation I'd love to hear about it. Our situation seems a lot less acute than many of the situations I've read about on this board, but it is still a fraught and delicate one for us to manage.

Thanks for any advice.



Registered User
Mar 12, 2005
West Sussex
Hello Mick

It is a horrible situation to deal with and being so far away must make it worse. I have always lived within a couple of minutes from my parents, so it was easier to help out.

You say the GP system is not interested as your Mum in law is physically fit, but they are there to help and are the ones to start the ball rolling with a specialist referral to a phsychiatric team who will assess her and open the door to the care needed for her.

My Mum is still 5 years on fit physically and that can work against you if wandering off and getting lost is an issue as it was with my Mum.

So get back onto the GP and insist on an appointment for her with the view to getting a referral.



Registered User
Oct 23, 2003
West Sussex
Dear Mick, you say your M in L has not had a formal diagnoses. Perhaps it is time to ask the GP to refer her to a specialist to find out exactly what you are dealing with. If it is dementia, once she has a diagnoses, they are duty bound to help out if needed. Love She. XX

blue sea

Registered User
Aug 24, 2005
Hi Mick

From my experience I would also say the health route via GP initially has to be your best plan. It is helpful for whoever contacts the GP, to have written down a list of all the problems, particularly emphasising safety issues caused by the memory problems. The GP will probably refer your mother in law for specialist diagnosis. Causes other than dementia need to be eliminated. If it is dementia some of the drugs may delay the progression. Geting support from Social services can go hand in hand with this, no need to wait for a diagnosis, though obviously it does help to have one. The biggest problem is if your mother in law will not co-operate with all this. If she doesn't perceive there is a problem (not unusual with dementia sufferers) it might help just to suggest the doctor wants to see her for a routine checkup, having agreed this with the GP in advance. In my dad's case the GP, after I had explained my worries to the receptionist, did a home visit to assess the situation. The GP is responsible for all health issues, initially, mental as well as physical. It can be a difficult road for relatives, particularly when you live a t a distance. I found I had to be assertive at various times with doctors, social services, in order to get the help dad needed. You are obviously a huge support to your wife which will make all the difference to how she copes with this very stressful and worrying time.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

blue sea
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Nutty Nan

Registered User
Nov 2, 2003
Dear Mick,
Apart from an appointment with the GP, perhaps you or your brother in law could arrange for a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) to visit.
We are lucky to have a really gentle, caring lady who has given us masses of good advice and has made many phone calls to involve social services, carers etc.
Best wishes!