QUESTION: My mom is starting to be very forgetful, and I fear it’s dementia, but she refuses to see her doctor about it. What do I do?   


     Thanks, reader, for the question, and it reminds me of my own journey with my mother and dementia. My prayers are with you during this time. Always reassure your mother that you love her and only want the best possible care and life for her, especially during this time of uncertainty. 


     What might be helpful to your mother is to provide some evidence of her current mental and behavioral state, along with supporting medical literature explaining the possible causes of this change. Perhaps your mother’s annual checkup might be a time when you could accompany her and ask permission to explain to her doctor the changes you notice in her. Assess environmental changes, taking over-the-counter medicine, or a new lifestyle or stage-of-life change. 


     Lastly, respect her right to autonomy and privacy. Work with her, not against her. Involve those closest to her to engage with her, be active with her and look out for her. Put safety measures in place if need be (i.e., extra keys, medical alert bracelet, home safety devices). Let your mother and any other family members know your concerns, continue to encourage prevention measures for healthy brain and body function, create overall wellness for her, and do not focus solely on what is wrong. 


     “You’ve got to accentuate the positive / Eliminate the negative / Latch on to the affirmative” (“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” Johnny Mercer). 


Dr. Fred Hall is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), supervisor, life and leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, couples, families and organizations in training, speaking, consulting and clinical practice. He does clinical work at Cornerstone Counseling in Jackson.