I'm sorry to hear your news, it is always a terrible shock when you first get the news, even if you have suspected something was wrong for a while.
First of all, who provided the diagnosis? Was it your GP or has your mother been referred to a Memory Clinic or to see an "Old Age Psychiatrist". I wouldn't expect a specialist doctor to use a term like "senile dementia", it just isn't a term that's used these days.
There are many different forms of dementia, the two most common being Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia, in which the blood circulation to the brain is affected, sometimes by "mini strokes". There are also other less usual types of dementia, a few of which can be helped by treatment, but sadly most types will progress and at the moment there is no cure for them. BUT there are now some drugs which can slow the progress of the disease and may even help with small improvements for a while, Aricept being just one of them.
These drugs are only prescribed for people with Alzheimer's at a fairly early stage, so it is very important that your mum gets a proper diagnosis at this stage if she hasn't already done so. This would involve seeing a consultant doctor, who would do some memory tests, talk to her and to you if you are her closest relative and carer to find out what the symptoms are, and possibly having other tests and maybe a scan.
Your mum needs help, and so do you in this situation. I don't know how it works in your area, but where I live as soon as a proper diagnosis is made, you are allocated a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) and a Social Worker who can advise on benefits and other sources of help. These people are part of an Elderly Mental Health Team and have been a great support to me while I have been caring for my husband over the last 8 years or so.
Your mother is entitled to a care assessment to find out whether there are things that she needs help with in her day-to-day activities. If you are the main carer you are entitled to a Carer's Assessment to see what help should be provided e.g respite care for your mum, or perhaps a place at a Day Centre to give you a bit of a break.
You could also phone the Alzheimer's Society Helpline for good advice, and their main website also has loads of good information sheets which may answer many of your questions.
There is also something called an Enduring Power of Attorney, which your mum can sign if she is still able to understand what she is doing, which will allow you or other appropriate relatives to manage her financial affairs when she is no longer able to do so. You can get advice on this from a solicitor or free from your local Citizen's Advice Bureau. My husband was advised early on to do this and it has saved a lot of trouble and expense when he couldn't manage his own affairs any longer.
You don't say how well or badly your mum is managing, or whether you have the responsibility of seeing she is cared for, but I can understand how it must feel to be told this, whatever the circumstances. I have found that the more you can find out, the better, although it is still incredibly difficult to try to come to terms with it.
Sorry, I have rambled on a bit, but I hope that some of it will be helpful. Please do keep in touch with us on this forum, as you will learn a lot from people who have already been through all this, and will perhaps be able to answer many of the questions you will have.
dear ruthie thanks for the info my mum was seen by a old age psychiatrist who came out to see her she told us mum would not be able to have any drug has she sufers from o b d and astma i look after mum 24/7 im the one child so its down to me my dad passed away 2 years ago xmas . My mum was taken into hospital in may with a infaction she was confused thrn and when we spoke to the staff thay said it was the drugs she had been given, But when she came home she got worse and i called the dr to come out to her her told me over the phone that he would send a prescription over in a taxi with some sleeping pills it was only when istarted shouting at him he came out, he gave her some damazapan and cipramil to take in the day,but the sedatives did not work she was waking up 3 4 5 in the morning shouting so the dr has changed her over to halopertdol but there r side affects and one is the chance of suffercation so now i;m up cheeking on her to make sure i have tryed to tell mum about the day centres she can go to but she is saying she does not want to go but hopefully she will change her mind all this is putting a strain on me but hopefully it will all work out in the end once again thank you very much best wishes trish