Before starting a conversation
If you've noticed symptoms of dementia in someone you know, or are concerned about their memory, you should encourage them to see their GP. The GP can refer them for assessment to find out for certain the cause of the problems.
This information will help you to discuss your concerns with someone you are worried about.
Before having a conversation, it can help to think about the questions below.
- What could be stopping them from seeing the GP about their memory problems?
- Have they noticed the symptoms?
- Do they think their problems are just a natural part of ageing?
- Are they scared about what the changes could mean?
- Do they think there won’t be any point in seeking help?
- What approach has worked in the past to help persuade them to do something they were unsure about?
- Who could be the best person to approach the subject with them?
- Do they usually prefer to have a lot of information to understand all possibilities, or do they usually prefer to take things one step at a time? You could order or download a copy of our ‘Worried about your memory?’ booklet if you think they could find it helpful to have written information to look through.
- Might they find it reassuring to have someone offer to go to the GP with them?
Remember that there isn’t one approach that is best for everyone, and there isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to discuss your concerns.
You should also consider that they may not react how you expect them to. You should listen to how they respond, and you may need to adapt your approach.
Watch our video to get more tips:
Pick an appropriate time and place
It can be helpful to pick a place that is familiar and non-threatening, so you can talk about it comfortably. It can also help to pick a time when you won’t be rushed. You could also pick a time when the GP surgery is open so that if they feel ready to book a GP appointment, they can do this.
You might start the conversation by gently asking the person if they’ve been feeling any different from usual or are struggling with anything. It can be helpful to start by showing that you are raising concerns because you care about them and want to offer support.
What if they are still reluctant to see the GP?
If you don’t seem to be able to make progress in persuading them to see the GP, you could mention your concerns to the GP yourself. Patient confidentiality means the GP is not able to give out information about a patient, but they are able to receive information. It is though up to the individual GP whether they decide to take any action on information received.
Get help and advice
For more advice, call our trained advisers on the Alzheimer’s Society National Helpline on 0300 222 1122.
View a PDF on 'Coping with Memory Loss':