Dementia: Getting your loved one to visit the doctor

Last updated 6 September 2023

The term ‘dementia’ describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia affects a person’s memory, behaviour, and ability to clearly think and perform tasks.

While the condition is most prevalent in people aged 65 years and over, people in their 30s, 40s and 50s can develop younger onset dementia. In 2022, it is estimated that almost 1.6 million people in Australia are involved in the care of someone living with dementia.

Early warning signs of dementia can be subtle and may not be immediately obvious. It’s often the person’s family members and other loved ones who first notice signs of dementia.

Dementia presents differently from one person to another but common warning signs include:

  • Progressive and frequent memory loss
  • Difficulty in communication
  • Reduced ability to organise, plan, reason, or solve problems
  • Difficulty handling complex tasks
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Loss of or reduced visual perception
  • Metallic taste in mouth, decreased sense of smell
  • Personality and behaviour changes
  • Apathy and withdrawal

Getting a loved one to go to the doctor

If you are concerned about whether a loved one has dementia, it is important that they see their GP. Getting a correct diagnosis of dementia at an early stage is important for treatment, support and planning for the future.

Getting a loved one to actually see a GP, however, can sometimes be difficult.

Dementia causes changes to the brain which interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. This means some people may not realise they have a problem. Others may recognise a problem but are afraid of having their fears confirmed by a GP so they may prefer to avoid a visit to the doctor as much as possible.

One of the most effective ways to get your loved one to see a doctor is to find another reason for a visit. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.

Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Make sure you reassure the person. Being calm can help the person deal with their fears about the diagnosis.

If the person will not visit the doctor:

  • Talk with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
  • Contact the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) for advice
  • Call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500

What support is available for people with dementia?

We understand that living with dementia or living with someone with dementia can be challenging without the right support. Through Mable, you can find Independent Support Workers to help you and your loved ones, with the kind of support you need, when you need it. Find out what kind of support you can get through Mable.

When you register with Mable, you can connect with support providers who go through various verification requirements before being approved.

Find out more about the range of safeguards and services available to you when you decide to find support via Mable. Whether it’s showering and dressing, meal preparation, basic cleaning, maintaining a safe environment, or assisting with social engagement, you can find the support service you need.


Dementia can only be diagnosed by a qualified medical practitioner (such as a GP) or by a specialist. A GP will conduct a series of medical and psychological tests to identify the condition which may be causing the symptoms. Explore in detail how dementia is diagnosed.

Dementia affects people in different ways depending on a number of factors including the type of dementia you are diagnosed with. Resources and support are available to guide you along the way.

Some common steps after a dementia diagnosis include:

Through Mable, you can connect with independent support workers in your community.

It can be challenging to care for a loved one living with dementia. Mable’s community of independent support workers can offer requisite respite care, should you need it. To find out what other types of support you can get through Mable, explore this article.


  • Dementia care
  • Dementia diagnosis
  • Dementia family support
  • Dementia symptoms
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