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Friend who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

(43 Posts)
nanna8 Fri 29-Oct-21 08:29:08

I have a friend who has just had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. She is pretty upset to be told this rather bluntly and also because they have told her she can no longer drive. There aren’t any buses near her so she will be pretty stuck relying on others and will probably have to move out of her very long term home. I am not sure she should have been told in such a blunt manner, it has made her very depressed. Do you think they should have pulled their punches a bit or maybe they did the right thing ? She used to be a teacher, very intelligent and active and at this stage she is aware of what lies ahead.

MissAdventure Fri 29-Oct-21 08:31:57

You would hope that doctors would read the situation and tailor it to the individual, wouldn't you, regardless of needing to tell someone.

sodapop Fri 29-Oct-21 08:41:09

I agree MissA* but not sure what the lady's perception of being blunt is. Its not a diagnosis anyone wants to hear and driving impacts on the safety of others.
It's a difficult call to make.

dragonfly46 Fri 29-Oct-21 08:41:38

How sad. I hope they can slow it down with medication. Ideally they should have softened the blow by telling her what help is available.

MerylStreep Fri 29-Oct-21 08:58:15

Nanna8
I don’t wish to be harsh but what a person suffering with Alzheimer’s tells you and what the truth is can be a world apart.
I support a neighbour who is in the early stages ( but refuses to recognise it)
But what I do know is: the earlier you go onto the medication the easier it can be for all involved.

Cabbie21 Fri 29-Oct-21 09:42:53

Would it be possible for some of us to share what are the early signs, so it doesn’t come a such a shock when it is diagnosed?

Granniesunite Fri 29-Oct-21 09:59:15

My husband had Alzhimers. His diagnose was a shock to him but not to myself as I'd noticed lots of small changes in his behavior and thought processes. He just couldn't retain new information, one of the indicators of memory lost, and he was confused driving on roads he been driving on for forty years getting lost and blaming all sorts of things.....

The spoken word will confuse your friend as her capacity to sort out facts, information ect will be jumbled up. If possible someone else with you at these appointments is advised.

As said up thread early diagnose is best as medication will help your friend and I hope she has good support from family and friends.

I'd suggest having a look at Alzhimers support forum lots of good information on there.

dogsmother Fri 29-Oct-21 10:10:50

So sorry for your friend, and for you too. Please don’t be too upset at bluntness from doctor. I’m of the view that any pussyfooting around can lead to ambiguity. It needs bluntness so there’s no mistake and that goes for a lot of diagnoses that have to be given.
I’ve been on the harsh end initially thinking ok so where’s all the caring compassionate stuff…but actually it made me realise quickly we have to suck this stuff up and get practical while we can.

nanna8 Fri 29-Oct-21 10:12:07

For some time I had noticed a few unusual memory lapses and odd things she had said that didn’t quite make sense so ,in a way, I wasn’t surprised. She had been having brain scans etc but didn’t understand what they were for. It is a shame she can’t be allowed just to drive down to the shops but, I do agree, if she is driving dangerously she could hurt someone. I haven’t actually noticed that her driving has deteriorated though her daughter did tell me never to let her drive me, so I don’t. I said to her it was good they have caught it early because perhaps they can delay things a bit. I am not so sure how early it is though.

Granniesunite Fri 29-Oct-21 10:24:05

Think she'll not forget the manoeuvre of driving but she will get confused if there's road works for example or heavy traffic. So much safer not to drive. Its so sad for her and her family its a horrible horrible illness.
Shes very lucky to have such a caring friend like yourself nanna8

kittylester Fri 29-Oct-21 10:29:20

I am going to get boring but please access all the services available. In the UK The Alzheimers society and Age UK.

Also, you can appeal a driving ban.

Nannarose Fri 29-Oct-21 10:32:42

My mother, who loved driving, was in the very early stages of dementia when she became unsafe. We had barely noticed the signs, but she became confused by even simple signs on familiar roads.
I do think that poor public transport is quite an issue in helping people give up driving.
I would say (as much as it is in your remit) that your friend may be better to move soon, whilst still able to adapt somewhat. Of course a lot depends on the support she has at her own home.
There are other threads on here, pointing out that giving up a car frees up a lot of money for taxis etc. Or some folk keep a car for others to drive for them.
I wish you luck, this is so hard

Witzend Fri 29-Oct-21 10:37:19

My mother was told by the GP that she had Alzheimer’s, but TBH had forgotten by the time she got home maybe 15 minutes later.

The first sign in her case, was noticed by my sister when they were on holiday. She’d always been an avid reader, but sister noticed that she was starting the same book from the beginning, more than once.

At the time, having already been through it all with FiL, I didn’t want to accept it. My ‘penny’ only dropped with a vengeance some time later. My DM had always been very clued up about finances, and one day phoned her bank (First Direct) about something - and had forgotten, literally the instant she put the phone down, what they had said. 🙁

MerylStreep Fri 29-Oct-21 10:43:01

Kitty
Your not getting boring 😊 it has to be said over and over every time it comes up.

I knew that there was something wrong with my Brother in law when I saw him shuffling.
Every Alzheimer’s case is different. The lady I garden for is the sweetest thing you could wish to meet. She smiles and laughs and sings ll the time.
The neighbour I support says really really nasty lies about her family.

Witzend Fri 29-Oct-21 10:52:21

My mother gave up her car voluntarily not long before the first signs of Alzheimer’s - she had become very nervous.

But would she take taxis with all the money saved by not running a car? Despite our urging and pointing this out, she would not. In her eyes they were still a great extravagance, reserved only for emergencies.
So she became more and more housebound, and reluctant to go out at all. She had never been a very sociable type anyway, so it just got ten times worse.

Peasblossom Fri 29-Oct-21 11:40:56

One of the first things I noticed in my MIL was difficulty in holding a conversation. Every sentence made sense on its own but they weren’t linked to each other and she would suddenly interject “stock” phrases like “So how are you?” or “Hiw is the weather?” at random and more than once.

I was 400 miles away and couldn’t stop her driving “just to the shops” but she was finally diagnosed when she became confused at a junction and pulled out in front of a motorbike. She genuinely didn’t understand what had happened.

It’s very difficult because with the diagnosis all sorts of decisions have to be made for the future at a time when decision making may be badly impaired.

Witzend Fri 29-Oct-21 11:47:57

One very important thing is to get Powers of Attorney for both finances and Health and Welfare sorted out ASAP, while the person is still sufficiently compos mentis to understand what they’re doing.

Later on the lack of them can be a nightmare, and involve hefty costs with the Court of Protection, not to mention so much day to day hassle.

There’s no knowing how quickly Alzheimer’s may progress. My mother must have had it for around 15 years all told, but a friend’s neighbour had the ‘galloping’ type.

Peasblossom Fri 29-Oct-21 11:52:41

Yes, I agree Witzend. My MIL filled in POA forms but refused to register them.

It meant we couldn’t chose the best care for her when it became necessary. She had to go to a care home SS chose for her. We were helpless.

Kali2 Fri 29-Oct-21 11:53:15

Really shocked to read you can appeal a driving ban.

We have a close relative in the UK on is aiming for similar diagnosis- we have all known for a long time- but now it is becoming official. It's just awfu- such an intelligen and talented man too. But his driving is so erratic, and although I know he will absolutely hate and resent this terribly- I hope he will be told to stop driving asap, and that no appeal will be allowed.

Niobe Fri 29-Oct-21 12:12:08

When our old neighbour developed Alzheimer’s he was told to stop driving so his brother took the car keys away ‘ just in case’ and that was very wise.

BlueBelle Fri 29-Oct-21 12:17:09

Having a diagnosis will be an awful shock for her as she is obviously still able to understand
medication is one answer and it kept my friend for ten years BUT she was a shadow of herself just terribly meek and compliant without an ounce of herself in her she was just there eating, sleeping using the loo but not anything going on at all She would sit quietly for hours I wouldn’t want to be like that so I would choose (if I had the choice ) not to know

Doctors can be very blunt (obviously not all) and I actually put a complaint in when my 92 year old Dad was told he was terminal completely out of the blue, when he believed he was a bit anaemic, he was completely alone when he was told, no one to hold his hand or soften the blow at all He gave up and was dead in three weeks He had paid for all his grandchildren to come home from the four corners for a family reunion 3 months on from the news He died 3 weeks later without seeing them and I believe the shock killed him quicker I believe without that news he would have hung on and I can never forgive that doctor for being so John blunt If he hadn’t have known he would have found the strength to continue until he saw his grandkids then he would have let go but to tell him completely alone was so cruel

kittylester Fri 29-Oct-21 14:24:50

Kali2

Really shocked to read you can appeal a driving ban.

We have a close relative in the UK on is aiming for similar diagnosis- we have all known for a long time- but now it is becoming official. It's just awfu- such an intelligen and talented man too. But his driving is so erratic, and although I know he will absolutely hate and resent this terribly- I hope he will be told to stop driving asap, and that no appeal will be allowed.

A diagnosis of dementia of any sort does not automatically preclude driving. And, if the person feels it is unfair, they can appeal and be tested.

Some people will be diagnosed very early and still be able to do lots of things for a good while and to ban just on a diagnosis isn't necessarily the best thing today.

No two people have the same journey with dementia.

If you are concerned about someone's driving you have a duty to report it to the DVLA regardless of any diagnosis.

Dustyhen2010 Fri 29-Oct-21 15:00:15

If you have been given a diagnosis of dementia you have to inform the DVLA and your insurance company. In my work (with people who had the diagnosis of dementia) I found on occasion folk had forgotten to renew their driving licences so were driving illegally!
With regards the OP mentioning the blunt manner of the doctor it can sometimes be hard for the diagnosis to be accepted and it needs to be very clearly explained. Often when told not to drive the patient will list how long they have been driving for, that they have never had an accident and they only travel locally. But unfortunately if they are becoming forgetful and their concentration is poor when suddenly experiencing an unusual circumstance like road works, child running out into the road or similar they are unable to deal with it quickly and so it is imperative they stop before they injure themselves or someone else. The lady mentioned should hopefully have access to a community psychiatric nurse and/or social worker who will help with medication (which is available to those with Alzheimers), ongoing plans, benefits etc

kittylester Fri 29-Oct-21 15:17:09

It is necessary to inform the DVLA of any health condition that might affect one's driving and the DVLA will often refer to the GP but a diagnosis of dementia doesn't automatically mean that someone should stop driving.

And, we all have a duty to report someone who we believe is not fit to drive for whatever reason even if they have not had a formal diagnosis.

Witzend Fri 29-Oct-21 18:09:26

The trouble with driving even just locally, once someone has dementia, is that people can and do forget even previously very familiar routes to places only a short distance away.

Quite early though in his dementia my FiL would regularly forget the way home from a local shop only a 10 minute walk away.
He would also keep buying sausages, even thought there were several packs already in his fridge, but that’s another story.