My mother has dementia – how can I help her?

Older woman with dementia and carer

If you think your mother might have dementia the best starting point would be to take her to her doctor to assess whether she has lost capacity or whether she is in the early stages of losing capacity.

A medical professional will be able to assess this for you and subsequently prescribe any suitable medication and advice for you both. This discussion may also help you to decide whether your mother is still able to manage at home, or whether she needs part time or full time assistance, either at home or in a care home.

Is there a power of attorney?

If there is a power of attorney in place then the attorney (usually a family member) will be legally capable to deal with your mother’s affairs.

Keep in mind that your mother may have prepared one without telling you in earlier years, so if she has a legal advisor, it might be worth checking with them as to whether they have been keeping it safe.

If there is not a power of attorney in place then your mother’s doctor should be able to advise whether she still has capacity to make a power of attorney, appointing you or another family member to be her attorney. However, the advisor that prepares the power of attorney must be confident that she has still has capacity and understands exactly what it is and what the implications of the document are.

Are there any other options?

If you are certain that your mother no longer has capacity to make any decisions, you can apply to become a deputy (England and Wales)/guardian (Scotland)/controller (Northern Ireland). An application needs to be sent to the Court of Protection (England and Wales), Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) or the Office of Care and Protection (Northern Ireland) and they will decide whether you are a suitable person to make decisions on your mother’s behalf. The application form includes a section for a qualified medical professional, who will need to meet your mother in order to confirm that she no longer has capacity and needs someone to make decisions for her.

You should discuss the matter with the family and make sure that they are happy for you to be nominated. Any conflict could cause the application to be denied.

Seek advice

If you are unsure of how to proceed or need further advice, a qualified professional will be able to advise on the various options available to you and can handle any applications on your behalf.

For advice on coping with dementia, as well as information on the signs and symptoms, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk