Picking up a Helpline call

Our Dementia Helpline team receives over 100 calls, emails and letters a day. Here, one of our advisers talks to a person concerned about her mother.


Here, the Helpline picks up a call from a person who is worried about her mother’s memory. Here is our advisor's side of the conversation:

Hello, National Dementia Helpline. How may I help?

There’s no need to apologise. Please take your time.

I know it can be upsetting when it’s the first time you have talked about it.

When did you first notice a change in your mother?

So, it isn’t just her memory? You have noticed some personality changes too. It must have been shocking when she swore at you in front of your daughter.

You were the same age when your grandmother swore at your mother for the first time in your presence. That sounds so upsetting. There’s an echo there of what happened to you, so it isn’t surprising this has been especially painful.

May I ask how old your mother is and how old your grandmother was when you noticed changes in her memory and behaviour?

No, because your grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease it isn’t necessarily the case that your mother has it too. There isn’t a proven, familial connection.

I couldn’t say. It’s not something I am qualified to comment on. There probably isn’t much use in either of us guessing. Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose. A GP cannot diagnose either, but the GP will be able to refer to a specialist such as a neurologist if appropriate.

You have noticed some personality changes too. It must have been shocking when she swore at you in front of your daughter.​

Of course. Dementia describes the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. There are many different conditions causing dementia and Alzheimer's disease is one of them. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

I can understand why you might say that, but a diagnosis can be helpful for many reasons such as life planning and there are more medication options now that there were not available when your grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease. It is possible to live well with Alzheimer’s disease with the right support.

I’m not sure it will be helpful to you for us to explore that at this stage. We are open 7 days a week so if that turns out to be the case you can always come back to us to talk it through. The next step might be to see a GP with your mother instead. There are other possibilities that may explain your mother’s behaviour and memory issue.

A thyroid imbalance –a urinary infection –depression for example…

It’s great that she will agree to see her GP with you. It might help if you jot down some of the specific incidents that have caused you concern lately.

It’s a difficult word, especially for the older generation and she may be reacting aggressively because of her fears. You probably don’t need to use the word at all. You might want to talk in general terms about a medical check-up just to make sure she is okay.

No, at this stage that would be entirely truthful.

She is in fact having a medical check-up.

You can call back as and when it might be useful…

Perhaps after the GP appointment? You are very welcome.

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Add your own

My husband was diognosed with dimentia over a year ago, I am trying to get some help with his speach and tactics for him remembering what he is saying when he is half way through a sentence. I am deaf and although I wear hearing aids he does not speak clearly enough for me to hear what he is saying most of the time. I am patient with him but notice that he makes more effort when speaking to other people.
I believe that a short appointment with a speach therepist would be very helpful.
My doctor has suggested that I do some research for this. Please can you help.
Many thanks

Hi Margaret, sorry that you're going through a particularly difficult time. Please contact our Helpline and they will give you the right information and support for this. There are a few ways you can contact them (live online service, email, phone), which you will find on this page: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/quick-link/helpline. The phone number for if you have speech or hearing difficulties and have a textphone or an adapted computer and use Text Relay is: 18001 0300 222 1122

I was diagnosed with Neurological Dementia about 2 years ago,& told I could no longer drive-I was shocked & quite unable to accept the diagnosis-& very distressed about losing my car, after some 40 years of driving. I have been well supported by friends & family, in so far as I have allowed them-altho' I have begun to lose my memory more noticeably now & am seriously worried-I am my own worst enemy & find it very difficult to ask/look for more support! I was a teacher & Counsellor & basically feel a terrible sense of shame-quite sure I should manage without asking for any more help, altho' I know it is much needed! So,please, what can you suggest?

Hello there,

I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a difficult time adjusting to your diagnosis. It can be a bit of a shock to find out that some things like driving might be affected by the condition, particularly if it is something that you have been doing for a long time which becomes second nature and a part of who you are.

I think it can be natural to feel uncomfortable about asking for help, however we all need support from time to time, particularly when coping with something new or stressful, or adjusting to major life changes.

If you are noticing changes in your memory, you might want to have a look at our Memory Handbook (http://bit.ly/1N60Xgq) or our Dementia Guide (http://bit.ly/1S5iCLL) for more ideas about coping with memory loss and living well with dementia.

Alternatively, you might want to call the helpline and talk to one of our advisers about how you are feeling. We can be reached on 0300 222 1122.

You might also be interested in exploring our online forum – Talking Point (http://bit.ly/25G4hKL) where you can browse different conversation threads and log in and post if you feel like it. There are moderators who can show you the ropes.

If you haven’t already made contact with your local office, they might be able to put you in touch with a dementia café or other groups in your area (http://bit.ly/1QgQ4fT)

Best wishes,
Emma (Helpline Adviser)

I have sent a comment-I am awaiting a response...

Hi Elaine, apologies for the delay in responding - we only monitor and approve blog comments during work hours (Monday - Friday 9am to 5pm). I've now approved your previous comment and asked our Helpline Team for a response to your query, which I will post as soon as we get it. If you'd like to get in touch with them urgently, you can reach them on 0300 222 11 22 until 8pm today, or email them a question using this form: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/forms/form/155/en/email_a_question_to_the….

I thought I had filled in all required fields-including my name & email address! I am going to end now as I am awaiting a call from my daughter!

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