This is a hypothetical service user journey to help service users, their families and carers.
This is me
“I am 72 years old and have been married to my husband Albert for 51 years. I used to be a school teacher and I like to be in charge and in control.
“Albert and I have three children: Sarah; Mark and Deborah and six grandchildren.
“This is my story of how my memory failed.”
“I can’t remember things like I used to, and if I write it down then I lose the list! I’m sure this can’t just be me getting older.
“I’ll try to improve my diet and exercise. I wish I could remember what happened just now. I wish Albert and the family didn’t get so cross with me when I forget – I don’t do it on purpose.”
Your general practitioner (GP) and practice nurse can help by running blood tests to check all is OK and do some memory testing.
“Things are definitely not right. I can’t remember what I had for lunch, I feel worried all the time that I’ll forget something important, everything seems to difficult and exhausting. I keep upsetting everyone because I don’t want to do things I’ve always done.
“I’ve made and appointment to see my doctor. My daughter Sarah said she would come along with me and her dad to talk to the GP about it.”
Your GP will consider referral to Memory Services for a diagnosis and treatment. Alzheimer’s Society also have advisors who can help signpost you to the right service.
Tests, clinics and diagnosis
My son Mark and his wife came with us to the Memory Clinic.
“I had to do tests and remember who the prime minister was, as well as telling the doctor and nurses what day it was -which I forgot! I cried again, and the nurse was lovely.
“After a few visits, I was told I had Alzheimer’s Disease. I was actually relieved to get the diagnosis, as I knew something had been wrong, but was also terrified – as I knew it meant I would get worse and need lots of care.
“My family were great and all rallied around. My little grandaughter, Julie who is seven, said she would always look after me and gave me her favourite teddy bear.”
Once you have a diagnosis, it can affect driving and insurance. Memory can be stabilised for a long time with medication. Good diet and exercise always help.
Alzheimer’s Society run clubs and groups for memory sufferers and carers that help put you in touch with others.
Living with Alzheimer’s
“After several months of upset and starting on tablets to stop my memory failing, things have settled down a bit.
“Albert and I went to see our solicitor to sort out who would make decisions for me, when I was no long able to do it and we started going to our local memory cafe, where we’ve met some new friends who understand what we’re going through.
“We have a nurse who sees us to check how I’m getting on with my tablets. At first they upset my tummy, but now they’re OK, and Albert agrees they’ve helped me a little – so that’s good.
“I’ve learned two new games on a games console, and I’ve got an assistant who takes me out once a week for a coffee, and we even go shopping for clothes (Albert could never choose them!).
“We even had a holiday with Mark and his family, which I found lovely, but frightening, as I kept losing my way around, but the grandchildren helped me find my way back.
“I’m struggling to write my story now, so I’m handing over to Albert…”
There are several medications to help memory problems, so don’t lose heart if the first doesn’t succeed. It’s always wise to start planning for who will look after your health, well being and financial decisions if you become unable to make them. Your community team can help advise you, as well as social services, or your solicitor.