How can I get my 55 year old daughter to see a doctor about her memory problems?

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

My daughter, 55, has clear symptoms of dementia, which have progressed over the past 2-3 years to include memory loss, confusion, personality change, inability to drive which she recognizes herself, sudden poor spelling, unable to keep up with conversation at times and just sits with a blank look. The problem is that she absolutely refuses to see a doctor! She has times of cognition and normalcy about 60% of the time. Her downhill decline seems rather rapid. We cannot force her to go to a doctor. I think she needs to be checked out for other physical causes since she is so young. Can you help or suggest what we can do?

Expert Answers

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

I'm so sorry to hear of the cognition problems with your adult daughter. Based upon your description of her symptoms, you may be correct in assuming that she has early onset dementia.

In trying to convince your daughter to see a doctor, I'm sure you've told her that you want only the best for her, and of your concern for her health. Because she is no doubt very frightened, it's important, that she knows that no matter what the diagnosis or outcome may be, you'll love her and be there for her as she faces these problems.

There are only a few courses of action open to you if your daughter continues to refuse your involvement and help, and none of them are going to be pleasant. However, the following steps can be taken without your daughter's consent:

  1. Call your local Alzheimer's Association and ask if there is a State Guardianship program available where you live and if they can recommend a local attorney who specializes in guardianship cases.

  2. If Alzheimer's Association cannot provide you with the name of an attorney and there is no guardianship program, I suggest you contact an elder law attorney in your area that has experience with guardianship cases.

For you to take control of your adult daughter's health and other personal matters without her written consent, you will absolutely need guardianship and a skilled attorney. There will have to be a court hearing to determine if your daughter is deemed competent to make her own decisions and maintain her independence.

If the court rules that your daughter is not capable of making rational decisions in her own best interest, your attorney will ask that you be named your daughter's guardian. At that point, you will have complete control over all decisions that affect her health and welfare.

In your question you stated that your daughter has "cognition and normalcy about 60% of the time"¦." Based on that, to prevail in a competency hearing may prove to be very difficult. Also, be aware that competency hearings can be incredibly stressful for all parties concerned. Don't enter into this approach without having tried your very best to enlist your daughter's cooperation on her own behalf.

Best of luck in getting resolved quickly and amicably with your daughter.