As her POA, how do I convince my cousin who I suspect is suffering from Alzheimer's to take a test for competency?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

Missing money, extreme weight loss, seeing people that are not there, missing her medication 2 days at a time, accusations of people stealing.

Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

There is no easy answer to convince your cousin to take a competency test for Alzheimer's. It may take patience...a lot of patience!

Are you able to spend time with her to gain her confidence? Is there someone else who she trusts who would support your suggestions?

Some options open to you"”

Book a double appointment with a doctor and ask her to come along.

Explain when making the appointment that you're really wanting the doctor to assess her for possible Alzheimer's. If she agrees to accompany you, see if you can get a referral.

Try to get a referral for a formal geriatric assessment.

Only a complete geriatric assessment (vitals, neurological testing, and scans) will determine her current condition and the type of dementia she may have.

Once assessed, invite her to attend adult day care.

Being in the company of others may help her, whether you explain that she's going to work, being called to do volunteer service, or to go on a mini-vacation. If this works, the adult day center will help guide her.

Spending time with her to gain her confidence or having someone else she trusts to support your suggestion to see a doctor will get you and your cousin on the right path. Your goal: a formal geriatric assessment and possible adult day care attendance will help give you peace of mind. If she is not eating or taking her medications, despite how much you are trying to care for her, you could potentially be held liable as her power of attorney. Take steps now to ensure she is properly diagnosed so that you may be able to provide her the kind of care she needs.