Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Saga Money Go to Saga Money
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Search Magazine

Dilemma: my sister is becoming confused and irrational

Katharine Whitehorn / 20 January 2016

Agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn hears from a reader concerned about her sister's heavy drinking and increasingly confused and irrational behaviour.

A reader is concerned about her sister's heavy drinking and increasingly confused and irrational behaviour

Dilemma: my sister is becoming confused

My sister, aged 80, and my brother, 60, are both single and live together in our old family home. About eight years ago my sister started to become confused and later began to drink heavily.

Her condition has steadily worsened, which is making life for my brother extremely difficult. She visited her doctor for minor ailments and was prescribed tablets for high blood pressure – and the doctor also observed her extreme confusion. 

He recommended that she see another doctor for a check-up (actually for an assessment), but she refused. 

My brother is kind, sensitive and tolerant but is finding the situation quite dreadful and becoming depressed. 

He needs a break but cannot get away as my sister becomes irrational and doesn’t like to be left alone.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

This situation cannot go on. Obviously if she had severe mental health issues she could be assessed without her consent, so you might appeal again to her doctor. 

Having your sister “sectioned” – declared ill enough to be dealt with against her will – would be an extreme step, but it may be that the time has come for her to be treated for her condition and possibly moved into a nursing home. 

You could also stay with her for a short time to give your brother a break, but I fear that’s not a long-term solution. 

I suggest you get in touch with Dementia UK, who will know how you might proceed.

Read our tips for communicating with people with Alzheimer's.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Related Topics