Nan robbed of vital treatment for two years after doctors dismissed her dementia as ‘just depression’ 

By George Kirk

The daughter of a woman told for two years she had depression before finally being diagnosed with early dementia has criticised the lack of testing available from the NHS.

Paula Kirk is bitter at how long it took for her mother Joyce Gilbert to get the proper treatment available for her ever-worsening vascular dementia.

Touching moment: Joyce posing for a picture with her Grandson

Paula said: “The NHS say there’s help but for two years it was virtually impossible to get a test, we felt completely abandoned and without any idea what to do with this helpless person.” 

Speaking up following Dementia Awareness Week, Paula, a hairdresser and mother-of-one from Nuneaton, recalled her heart-rending experiences with her mum, originally from County Durham.

Paula said that the signs weren’t typical, as it all began with her mother slowly losing interest in the things she loved.

As the disease worsened, Joyce began to rely on alcohol to numb the pain, resulting in her having multiple falls, including on a glass vase and on the street, one time cracking her head open. 

When confronted about her drink problem, Joyce would cry and say she couldn’t remember as the confusion from the dementia worsened due to the alcohol. 

One Sunday, after another fall, the paramedics were called, who rushed her to George Eliot Hospital. 

When fully assessed, the brain scan showed that Joyce was suffering from Vascular Dementia, whereas for the two years up to that point, the family had always been told it was just depression. 

After coming out of hospital, Joyce was moved to nearby Acorn Lodge care home. Since then, alcohol has no longer been a problem, but the dementia has continued to worsen with constant mood swings making her more aggressive. 

Caring: Joyce’s grandson helps guide her the dining room

“One minute she is reasonably happy, but in a split second she can turn nasty and swear at you, crying, shouting that she wants to die,” explained Paula. 

“On a good day she’s a pleasure, however on a bad day when she’s aggressive and swearing, you just feel you want her out of her misery as it is paining the family.

“She is no longer my mum, my mum went years ago.”

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