I Am Worried About a Loved One – How Should I Approach the Issue?
It is normal for us all to worry about our parents and loved ones, especially as they become older and potentially more vulnerable.
If you begin to notice changes in the behaviour of a loved one, particularly memory, or you notice them becoming more frequently confused it could be a sign that something isn’t quite right. These symptoms are associated with dementia but also are associated to other conditions such as a vitamin deficiency, infection, or stress amongst other things.
In order to be sure what the cause is it is always best to seek the opinion of a medical professional such as their GP.
Raising concerns to a loved one can be difficult as it is such a sensitive issue. It may be a good idea to start a conversation by asking how the person is and if anything is worrying them. Or, if you feel comfortable doing so, suggest they go to their GP to talk about recent changes in their memory and/or behaviour. It is a scary time but the sooner a diagnosis is made – or reassurance is given that the symptoms are not dementia – the sooner help and support can be given. If for example the memory loss is not caused by dementia but by stress or a physical illness that can also be addressed.
Dementia is something we as a society are all increasingly aware of so people are also more open about their own experiences and willing to talk. You might find that you have friends or colleagues who have experienced the same thing and could offer some help and support.
On a practical level if someone does have problems with their memory and this is diagnosed as a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s i.e. it will not get better but gradually worse, it is important to speak to your family member or friend about putting in place Power of Attorney and also a will. This is to ensure their affairs are in order if there is ever a time they lose the ability to make their own decisions and manage their own finances. If these documents are not prepared and someone does lose the ability to make their own decisions it can result in a lengthy and expensive application to the Court of Protection. A solicitor will be able to help you with this or to point you in the right direction as to what is required.
The key point to remember if you are worried about a loved one is that there is a lot of support out there.