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What's the normal route for a diagnosis of memory loss/confusion problems?

My dad's memory has been deteriorating over the past couple of years and he finds it difficult to work out the correct sequence of actions when faced with anything other than a straightforward task. He used to do the cryptic crosswords, but has now given them up and struggles to find places on the road map, let alone follow a route...

Last year I took him to see a very unhelpful GP, who carried out a very simplistic test for Alzheimers/dementia (e.g. repeat these three things after me, count backwards from 100) - simple tasks, so dad was fine!

Since then he has deteriorated further. Three months ago, mum took him back to see a different GP, who organised a home visit from the mental health team nurse. She did several more substantial memory and other tests and concluded that he definitely has memory and other problems that need investigating. Dad has now had a series of blood tests, a brain CAT scan and an ECG and has been referred to see a psychiatrist to discuss the results!

Is it normal to be referred to a psychiatrist for memory loss/ confusion problems? Obviously if this is the onset of Alzheimers/dementia, we would like a quick diagnosis so that dad can start any appropriate medication as soon as possible.

Any advice? Thanks...

6 Replies

my dr referred me to consultant who sent me for a brain scan at hospital they said i have alzheimer's and vascular dementia because i had a tia which is a mini mini stroke i am now on medication for alzheimers called donepezil hydrochloride u have to let dvla to know as ive just got my licence back for one year then reassesed hope this helps


Thanks Greenfields - do you know what type of consultant you were referred to? Just seems a bit odd to me that its a psychiatrist... But maybe that is the norm?


this medication slows it done not cure


well its to do with brain but its not mental


I would just go along with the system, I tried to get help for my husband several years ago when I realized he was becoming forgetful, confused and sleeping most of the day plus through the night. He was given tablets which sort of helped for a while, but he became clumsey falling for no reason, had 2 Tia's which went unnoticed. Then nine months ago he had a fall was admitted to hospital two days later had a massive stroke, brain bleeds and other complications.

However 11weeks down the line he came home diagnosed with vasular dementia.Rather life changing for me, but we are managing he gets taken to a day care centre daily, called by him 'off to work'. Routine is very important.

My one regret, that I didn't push for an earlier diagnosis, things may have been different, so just go along with the system it make sound odd but at the end its results you need.

Good Luck



I think that for an older person the specialist to get referred to would be a psycho-geriatrician.