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In Denial


New member
Jan 13, 2020
Hello, I am new to this forum and new to the issues around Dementia. My mother aged 77 has been suffering from what we are pretty certain is Alzheimers for the past 2 years. She lives with her husband of 79. She is able at times to function 'normally' with others, although often is confused by time, dates, people, names etc. She is physically frail. She has always refused to seek medical help throughout her life, and indeed has always been quite a difficult person to talk to about any emotional/mental health difficulities and now she refuses to acknowledge anything is wrong and her husband has to resort to seceretly emailing me to let me know how things are. She refsues to go to the GP, if the GP were to come to their home their is the distinct possibility she could walk out, become hysterical or break down.

I am seeing my own GP next week under the guise of me being stressed by the situation ( I am!) but in order to get some advice. I wondered how others have dealt with a situation when someone refusesto go to the GP and denies anything is wrong. I have my mothers GPs name and number but doubt he will talk to me without her consent. I also worry about my mothers husband who is dealing with all this on his own. Thanks in advance.


Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
Welcome to Dementia Talking Point @Mudlark

Denial is common with dementia. Obviously it would be best if your mum would go to the GP - perhaps for a “Well woman” check up - as there are treatable conditions which mimic dementia.

Whether or not your mum is diagnosed it might be best to concentrate on getting support for her husband. Perhaps a cleaner or gardener to start with if they haven’t already got these. There is no magic pill for dementia it’s all about managing the symptoms and the situation. The carer needs as much support as the cared for. Being there to share his worries will be a big support to your mum’s OH.

Keep posting and we will do our best to support you.


Registered User
Jul 16, 2019
Hi @Mudlark, welcome to the forum. What you are describing (the refusal to seek medical treatment etc) is very common with your Mum's generation - my Mum was cut of the same cloth! I think speaking to the GP is a sound idea, although he obviously has to respect patient confidentially unless you have got Mum to sign a letter for the GP to say that he can discuss her situation with you. As @Bunpoots suggests he may be able to suggest and assessment to her/and or her husband.

I don't know how close you are located to Mum but it might be worth having a discussion with her husband to ascertain the actual situation i.e. the day to day challenges - what I found when my Mum was in a similar situation supporting my Dad (before she had dementia too) the day to day actual situation was far worse than the presented version, so as not to worry us (if that makes sense?). You will then be in an informed position to decide on what support they both need, whether it be home care, cleaner, gardener, meals on wheels or someone to take Mum out occasionally to give him a break. Has your Mum's husband applied for attendance allowance as it sounds as though he is fulfilling a carers role currently? That could be used to fund additional support (having a formal diagnosis helps with the application). Stay strong and keep posting - all the best.


New member
Jan 13, 2020
Thank you @Bunpoots and @Pete1 for your reply's. My mother was 'difficult' before this happened, and always refused to see Dr's. I live reasonaly close and have spoken to her husband via email and although he is willing to discuss it and accepts that she is ill, he feels he is 'betraying' her by telling me about it and is reluctant, at the moment, to accept help, I am not sure how I will persuade them to accept help such as a cleaner, I can only imagine some kind of crisis will occur and force the situation. Thanks for mentioning attendance allowance, I hadn't heard of that, I shall look into it.


Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
High Peak
Your mother needs to see a doctor but refuses, so subterfuge is needed.

Work on her husband. He may feel like he's betraying her but he's actually denying her the help she needs. Depending on the diagnosis, there may be drugs she can take to slow down the progress of dementia. It's also possible something else is the cause of her symptoms so it's really important to see the GP and find out.

Your mum's GP can't talk to you without permission but does have to listen to your concerns. If you write to him/her with a bullet list of the things your mum is doing and explain her reluctance to seek help, you might get some action. Tell them how worried you are and that they have a duty of care for a vulnerable adult. A good GP will either call your mum in on the pretence of a 'well-woman' check-up or something similar or arrange a home visit. At the very least, your letter will be on their records for the future.

This 'elephant in the room' stage is really hard, especially when a partner is colluding.(Though I do understand his reasons!)

Best of luck - I hope you don't have to wait for a crisis.