The family doctor or GP usually arranges for someone to see a specialist Consultant Psycho-geriatrician.
GPs will only do this if they are reasonably sure that the person is suffering from a psychiatric condition and because early symptoms can vary so much, it is often difficult to be certain of this.
It is therefore very important to give the GP an accurate account of exactly what symptoms or behaviour patterns are causing problems and to what extent and how often they occur.
Some conditions can develop which cause similar symptoms and which can be treated with medication so the GP will try to eliminate these possibilities first.
However, if the symptoms or behaviour continue or become worse, then further contact with the GP and a referral to specialist services, like those offered by a Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, is needed.
Referrals for Psychological and Counselling Services may be made as an alternative to the prescription of medicines.
A 'self-referral' can be made to several organisations, including the Memory Team and Community Mental Health Team for Older People (see entries) who specialise in the assessment and diagnosis of mental health problems in old age.
Note: GP surgeries are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. If you need to contact a GP on a Saturday, Sunday or out of normal working hours you will need to call the ‘Out Of Hours Service’. To do this telephone your GP surgery as normal and a recorded message will give you the Out Of Hours telephone number to ring.