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I'm worried about my Dad's health - Dementia/ Alzeimer's ??

(12 Posts)
NormaSnorks Mon 21-Jul-08 21:52:07

My mum died about 5 years ago. My dad lives on his own near me in a retirement complex.

I've generally felt a bit worried about him over the last year/ 18 months:

- he's lost weight/ looks thin
- he admits he is forgetting things
- within the last 6 months he has developed a tremor in one hand.
- sometimes his face looks a bit strange - as if one side of his mouth is frozen - he tends to get food/ saliva on it, as if he can't feel it there.

He has always been a keen gardener - used to have allotments etc. He now has a small vegetable patch.
Today I discovered he has sprayed the entire crop with weedkiller instead of fly killer and destroyed it all sad.

I don't know if this just a terrible mistake, or if I should be concerned that he is now becoming potentially dangerous to himself (e.g. if he did something similar with food products)

He is alway brushing off any concerns I raise about his health, and would be unlikely to discuss this.

I don't know what to do, but this weedkiller incident has left me upset and concerned.
What if anything can I do?


ruty Mon 21-Jul-08 21:54:21

the weight loss, tremor and the frozen mouth may well be Parkinsons. Memory loss can come with it, and so can dementia. My mum had all these symptoms. He needs a referral to a gerontologist to get a diagnosis. Can you go with him to his doctor? push for a referral, these things do sound rtather familiar to me i'm afraid. Good luck.

liath Mon 21-Jul-08 21:59:14

It'd be worth mentioning your concerns to his Gp & get them on file so that the next time he's at the doctors they could check him out.

Could he be depressed? That can cause memory problems in older folk.

hellymelly Mon 21-Jul-08 22:00:58

My dad has parkinsons and yes this sounds possible but it is also possible he has had a minor stroke.My mother's two strokes were not diagnosed until she had a biggy and they did a scan.The symptoms fit.He needs to get a proper check over.If it is s stroke then he may improve somewhat over time.

NormaSnorks Mon 21-Jul-08 22:06:33

Thanks for these repsonses - yes, I've been wondering about all of these other possibilities too.

He really is very resistent to going to the doctor, and I'm not really sure if he even acknowledges all the factors I mention.

Would I be able to talk to his GP without him there?

ruty Mon 21-Jul-08 22:21:03

don't think so - patient confidentiality. you really need to persuade him or wait until he'll go.

spicemonster Mon 21-Jul-08 22:22:47

Could you ring the GP and ask them to come and see your dad at home?

I'm sorry - that sounds really rough

lucyellensmum Mon 21-Jul-08 22:56:56

You don't say how old your father is norma. I don't really know what to say, my father had alzheimers and it was awful. Some of the things you say ring true, apart from his face. Could it be that he has suffered a slight stroke? weight loss is associated with alzheimers but this is usually more noticable at the later stages.

MEn are terrible about getting their health sorted so you might have a bit of a battle. Forgetting things i think is pretty normal. My father i suppose did forget things but it was more that his perception and behaviour changed as opposed to him "forgetting" stuff.

What i would urge you to do is have a chat to your dads doctor, explain your concerns, then find a reason to get your dad to the doctor. I say this because there are treatments out there, that if given in the very early stages of dementia can delay the progress of the condition considerably.

I have to say that i wouldnt worry about the fly killer/weed killer thing. This sounds like the sort of thing i would do, and in fact i have done something similar - i had a mist spray for my seedlings, and one day i picked up the dettol spray by mistake. It could just be that he genuinely was on auto pilot, wasn't concentrating and picked up the wrong container. I know this is the thing that upset you the most and im not trying to trivialise it, but in context with the other things you describe, yes, its a concern but taken out of that context, something to have a laugh over.

Like other postors have said, it could be a number of things but early diagnosis is really important to all of these things. Saying that, at the end of the day, it is his life and only he can choose at this stage what he wants to do - making it much much harder for you.

I am sorry that you have these concerns and i hope and pray that your Dad continues to be well. The one thing is though, you sound lke a loving and caring daughter - he is lucky to have you.

The doctor will definately discuss with you your concerns, im not sure he will be able to tell you anything that he "knows" about your dads health without permission, but a general chat based on "im worried" "what if" "what do you recommend" etc. He will be able to point you in the direction of local organisations that could help.

With regards the weight loss, this could just be that he is slowing down and not as physical and therefore losing muscle mass. Of course, this does need investigating.

Best of luck

ruty Tue 22-Jul-08 08:00:20

sorry didn't mean to spell out doom and gloom but i just remember trying to have a chat with my mum's doctor in the early days of her memory loss, before diagnosis, and he refused to discuss her at all. You dad's doctor may be more understanding, it is worth a try.

NormaSnorks Tue 22-Jul-08 09:08:08

Thanks for all of these. I've been with him to his GP a few times when he had medicines changed etc, so she does know me, but as lucy says I wouldn't be able to discuss Dad as such without him there I expect.

He's not very old BTW - 77 this year, and has no other major health problems, is still fairly active - walking/ gardening.

I think I'm just really scared about him getting to the point where he can't look after himself. I know the responsibility for looking after him will fall on me, and I don't know how I will cope when it happens sad.

ruty Tue 22-Jul-08 09:22:42

I do feel for you NS. It is hard when parents start to get ill, do you have any siblings who can help share the responsibility? don't panic yet he may not deteriorate for a long time or at all. And you can get assistance like carers to help get him washed and dressed etc [although they can be late/not turn up/be different every day in our experience!] Take it one day at a time. there may be some medication that will help which is why early diagnosis is crucial, and GPs are not very good at this, so being proactive is important.

liath Tue 22-Jul-08 21:14:50

NS, you can discuss your dad with his GP without him there. The GP won't be able to tell you naything about your father because of confidentiality but they could take on board what you say for when your dad is next in. The GP could put something in your dad's notes although you'd have to consider how your dad would feel if he then had access to his notes for some reason and saw that you had spoken to the GP IYKWIM. Sorry that all sounds complicated!!!

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