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Rights of someone with dementia - advice needed


New member
Jan 22, 2021
I am wondering if anyone can help me. I am working with an elderly relative who I rather suspect is in the early stages of vascular dementia (Not a medic but sadly seen it 3 times before). My relative is still awaiting a memory test and a diagnosis.

Meantime other relatives - far younger than me and without this particular background - have decided that this person needs organising and fast. A social worker was brought in. Unfortunately, because of covid I couldn't be there for the visit, and can't just pop around. However, I gather the social worker promptly extracted several agreements that people could come into his home to do things. One person arrived the next day and started taking photographs. He couldn't recall having agreed to this. He thought they were going to come and sit with him not go marching around the place without his permission. He phoned to tell me how upset he was and after both of us were initially dismissed - it was all necessary so no good arguing - we eventually got half an apology.

More recently I have been asked to discuss something else with him - something else he was originally supposed to have agreed to. He told me he was not totally averse but wanted to make some modifications to the original idea. This meant my making some inquiries. Before I could do this I got a demand to know whether everything had been fixed yet because time was going on and the latest people being brought in (Private clearing contractors) wanted to start. I wrote back and said we both needed time. I am rather shocked to receive today an email informing me that we are not to be allowed more time and that we are deliberately delaying things which HAVE to be done now. I am told he agreed with the social worker and that is the end of it.

Can anyone advise on the legal rights here? If a social worker decides that someone has mental impairment although they have no diagnosis, and that they must have certain things done in their home and there is initial agreement is the person obliged to accept for ever after? What happens if they don't? If I told him not to open the door, for example (and he remembered not to) could the door be broken down?


Volunteer Host
Mar 25, 2016
Hello @Mimosa12 welcome to the forum. A little more background information would be helpful in understanding the situation better but from what you have posted it seems that the 'work' that needs doing to the property, including the need for private clearing contractors, indicates that your relative's living conditions may not be good. Who is arranging for the work to be done and employing the contractors - the local authority or your younger relatives? If the social worker deemed that there were potential safeguarding issues in relation to how your relative was living then it's understandable that there is an urgency for the work to be done.

As per the above post, if your relative still has mental capacity then it would be a good idea for the family to put LPA's in place now, rather than wait for a diagnosis. What relation is everyone to the individual? It seems that there may be an element of 'friction' between yourself and the other relatives, but as you were not present during the social worker's visit you don't have a full picture of what was discussed/agreed, and your relative with memory problems/possible dementia may not be providing you with accurate information either. If there are health/safety issues that require addressing relating to the condition of the property could you try to could sort out any differences and work together with the other relatives to get your relative the help that he needs?


Registered User
Jun 12, 2020
I second what @Louise7 has said. As you have been unable to visit in person you may not have a full understanding of the situation. People with dementia may not give a full and accurate picture of the situation so you do need to find out more. Is there a family member who could visit, and who has the confidence of everyone?


Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
As others have said, it's not unusual for a person with dementia to provide one version of events to a family member and a different version to others, especially professionals. It's difficult unless you were there to fully understand exactly what was decided. However in answer to your question about breaking down the door and I assume you mean social services, then they would need a court order. I'm sure others will be along soon with better advice if that is wrong. Police have the power to enter a property by force to protect life and limb if the situation is that imperative. If this is work to safeguard the elderly relative and is in his best interests, then I don't see why you would frustrate the process by taking a stance of encouraging him not to open the door.


Volunteer Host
Apr 13, 2018
Hi @Mimosa12, have you spoken to the younger relatives to get their side of what was agreed? People with dementia don't always remember things or if they do don't remember them exactly in the way they took place. I know its tricky if you can't be there to see for yourself, but sometimes you do have to trust that things are being done in a person's best interests.
For instance my mother in law managed find for many years on her own with support from my brother in law. He popped in twice a day to check on her, and did all her admin, house maintenance etc, but she could cook, do her own personal care etc. Over the last year or so she has declined a lot and the family decided she really needed carers coming in. My husband was there when the care company came to do the assessment. MiL was charming, and although not keen, agreed that carers were needed. My husband was also there two weeks later when the first visit happened. MiL was extremely upset as 'she didn't know it was happening and would never have agreed.' My husband just apologised and said they should have told her, but the visits would not be stopped. Within two days she had got used to the idea. If he didn't have a good relationship with his siblings or had seen for himself the extent of his mother's needs he may well have felt she was being forced into something that wasn't necessary.
If you wait for someone with dementia (and my mother in law has no official diagnosis either) to agree to want they need, rather than what they want, you'll be waiting a very long time.

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