It’s been 6 months since I wrote to Mum’s Doctor about my concerns, and I’m fairly sure nothing has been followed up. I make an appointment and drive her over. At the Surgery, Mum is well-behaved and doesn’t interject much as I list a few of my more recent observations and concerns. The Doctor pulls out a sheet of paper and starts asking Mum some questions. First off, he asks her to remember 3 words: “candle, ball, shoe.” Then the questions begin:
“What day of the week is it?”
She can’t tell him.
“What month is it now?”
She thinks it might be August.
“And what season is August in?”
“It’s late Spring, at the beginning of Summer.”
The Doctor concedes that this year, particularly, it’s been hard to judge what season we’ve been in.
Next he asks Mum to subtract 7 from 100 and keep going. He offers “93” as the first answer.
“93….er…89….er….87?… er 82?”
The Doctor points to his watch and pen and Mum identifies them correctly. He asks her the name of the village she lives in and whether she knows where she is now. Both are answered correctly, with a touch of indignation. He then asks her to copy a drawing of 2 intersecting irregular polygons. For some reason, Mum feels that she’s completed her copy when she’s only drawn one of the polygons. Finally, Mum is asked if she remembers the 3 words the Doctor gave her at the beginning. She can recall only “candle”.
The Doctor sits back and tots up Mum’s score. I’m feeling a mixture of emotions: anxiety and shame mixed with a surprising relief that the Doctor finally has witnessed a little bit of Mum’s problem. While she’s still normal on some areas, there are others (numbers particularly) where her capacity is gone. I picture her brain like a Swiss cheese.
The Doctor decides to refer Mum to a specialist Elderly Psychiatric team who can analyse her in more detail and possibly prescribe drugs that might help. They will also be able to refer Mum to specific Council services. The Doctor also wants to take some blood tests, and we set an appointment the next day for blood to be taken.
Finally, I ask whether I need the Doctor’s referral to get Mum a “meals-on-wheels” service. He thinks not and gives me a leaflet on the local volunteer service.