Registered User
Dec 10, 2006
My Mother was diagnosed 5 years with Dementia. Over the past year, her personal hygiene has become a serious problem, along with the fact that her house is filthy. She is now doubly incontinent. The local authority provide pads for her, but the problem lies with not washing herself. She lives alone (nothing wrong with me syndrome) and has been drinking heavily for many years now. My younger sister passed away 2 weeks ago, after a cancer diagnosis 6 weeks earlier and needless to say, her drinking has increased further.

Professionals refer to her as a "feisty" lady and one even congratulated her on her choice of alcoholic beverage (whiskey.)!

I work full time, my elder sister lives abroad and Mum refuses any offer of assistance.
I don't even have a key to her house - none of us ever have.
She has horrendous mood swings and I am finding her extremely difficult to deal with. She couldn't find her false teeth yesterday but it's usually her bag, keys, purse etc. During my search for the teeth, I unearthed a soiled nightie behind the couch, obviously adding to the stench in the living room.
I also discovered yesterday that she has maggots in her kitchen. She buys food every day (sometimes several times the same day) and her cupboards have stopped taking in.
I used to collect her when I finished work, to bring her to my house for dinner, but she was so drunk, I stopped. I am finding it more and more difficult to spend time with her and now dread the weekends, when I am expected to be there.
My husband has been extremely tolerant over the years, but also finds her very difficult to deal with.
I would welcome any advice on how to deal with this.

Thank you


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Ethna, welcome to TP.

Your situation sounds absolutely horrendous. A dementia sufferer who refuses help is difficult enough, a dementia sufferer who not only refuses help, but also drinks too much is, IMHO, about as difficult as it gets. While no one conciously makes a decision to be afflicted with dementia, it must be difficult to feel a great deal of sympathy for someone who you feel may have in some measure contributed to their illness

You say she refuses help - do you think that is possibly because she's getting help from you, or do you think she might acccept it if you weren't on tap? I understand that she's your mother and you love her, or at the very least, feel responsible for her, but it might be necessary to manage a staged withdrawal. Have you been in touch with social services and/or her GP about everything?

It sounds as if she is coming close to being a danger to herself - if so, she may be a candidate for sectioning, horrible as that may sound. Depending on her living situation, she may also be a danger to others.

If you haven't already looked, there is a wide range of information contained within the Factsheets on this website (look for an i Factsheets link at the top left corner of the page. Also the Alzheimer's help line can give you more specifc advice (0845 300 0336).


plastic scouser

Registered User
Sep 22, 2006
Hale Village, Liverpool
First of all, so sorry to hear about your sister. Why is it that this horrible disease always seems to impose itself on other tragedies in your life and give you more pressure than you can really cope with?

You need to get the local mental health team involved with your Mother. You mention "professionals" - who are they? If it is the local mental health team then this sounds like a shocking lack of care and you need to complain to the local health authority very quickly. Following the lack of care that my Dad received I wrote to his consultant & was pleasantly surprised to be told that my complaint was going official with the health authority.

Do not let anyone convince you that your mother is capable of looking after herself - quite patently she is not. You need to get help and quickly - do not feel guilty either, you have enough on your plate at the moment and you are not a trained nurse.


Registered User
May 24, 2006
Having coped with a pretty mild version of what you are dealing with i would insist that the Mental Health Team section her

You simply cannot be expected to deal with this its wholly unreasonable

Mind you 5 yrs of heavy whisky drinking should have pretty much wrecked her liver by now so I doubt it will be long before the real crisis occurs


Registered User
Oct 27, 2005
north-east england
your mum

Hi Ethna, in my humble opinion you should send a letter to your mum's g.p. and her local social services office explaining the issues that concern you and ask them to properly assess the situation. They cannot ignore you more often than not the written word is more powerful in these situations. Sorry to hear about your loss and keep in touch. Shauny.


Registered User
Dec 10, 2006
Many thanks for all replies - I will try to clarify some queries.

Just a fortnight ago, I met with Mum's Psychiatrist. I highlighted the drinking situation and she had picked up on Mum's poor personal hygiene immediately.
Apparently she cannot be sectioned just for her drinking alone - she would have to be out wandering alone through the night or other such scenarios. She went to great lengths to explain to me about how horrible a place she would be put into, if sectioned and asked "Is this what you want for your Mother.

Mum's Social Worker calls but doesn't get in - that's it for another 6-8 weeks. This is a situation the I hope will improve as Mum started at a Day Centre last week - 1 day a week - and I have contacted the Social Worker asking her to visit Mum at this location. Needless to say, it can be a battle to get her there and I can't see her attending for much longer (In her words "I don't have to go")

I am still off on bereavement leave until after Christmas, but I am not telling Mum.
I am having difficulty coming to terms with the death of my sister and need time to sort my own head out - so Mum is going to be left to her own devices for this week anyway.

The most worrying thing for me is the likelihood of her falling down drunk and banging her head etc. She also takes TIA's, so there is every chance of this happening and no one has a key to gain access. Nearly all her old neighbours have passed away but she doesn't want any intervention from the few remaining ones, who, for my sake, would keep an eye on her and ring me if they were concerned. She would almost be rude to them but I now know that they would interfere with her drinking.

I feel that I have unburdened a great weight by sharing this with you all.

Many thanks indeed



Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Hi ethna

While it's true that you can't be sectioned solely for alcohol dependancy, that's not really the issue here, is it? It sounds, from what you say, that even if she was totally sober, she still would have problems which could put her is personal danger. I have to say, for the psychiatrist to say "these are place you wouldn't want your mother to be" is a cop out on his/her part. You don't want your mother to have dementia. Personal danger is not just wandering out into the street, it can also include an inability to judge what is safe to eat, and if her kitchen is as bad as it sounds, there's a health hazard right there. As her nearest relative under the terms of the act, (your older sister would normally be, but is excluded as she lives abroad) you have a right to ask for a formal assessment.



Registered User
Apr 16, 2006
I have just posted a thread about my mum and her drinking, she has also been diagnosed with dementia. My Mum is also (fine and only suffering from grief) so I understand where you are coming from. last night I blew and told my mum that I was half killing myself to help her and that she was destroying every thing with the drink..I love my mum and it rips my heart out to see what she is going through, I also understand her need for a drink to dull her pain and confusion. If your mum has just lost a daughter she will be suffering..... BUT you need to take care and look after yourself you have a grieving process you need to go through yourself and no one else can do this for you. Last year I had to have my mum admitted to hospital it was not easy but it did get me a sw that understands and a mum that behaves a little bit better when I tell her she may get taken back in...


Registered User
Apr 19, 2006
Cheshire, UK.
Hi Ethna, welcome to T.P.,

Your post made me feel saddened,exacerbated and frustrated in equal measures.
How professionals can say that drinking alone doesn`t constitute any help, is beyond me. I`ve had the same problem with my dad, he`s been a lifelong drinker, when mum died 4yrs ago, dad really went off the rails. Up until Sept. this year, when he was admitted to hospital for an operation, he was drinking 3quarters of a bottle a night.....he`s 82!!!!It was a real NIGHTMARE and nobody seemed to be able to help, he`s fallen several times and ended up in hospital, and this was with dad living with us. So i empathise with your worries and concerns. Dad to, started to neglect his personal care and i have to remind him everyday to wash, shave and clean his teeth, otherwise he just wouldn`t bother.
I also have a carer in twice a week to bath him.....he objected to start with, but now he looks forward to her visits. Maybe your mum would get used to having a carer, after her initial objections, who might become a "friend" to her, if you had this in mind.

By the way, dad doesn`t drink anymore because his A.D. is more advanced now and he rarely thinks about it. At Christmas we`re having some none alcoholic black beer in for him, so he won`t feel left out. Just a thought......Would your mum drink lager? Cos you can get that too!!

So sorry about your sister.....i too lost my big brother, it took ages to get over it, he`s been gone 8 yrs now.

Sending you BIG HUGS and love at this sad time,
Jan. X