How to help someone who refuses it?

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My mother is at severe risk for dementia and alz. Her mother currently has it and several of her aunts have/had it as well. My father and I see changes in her memory, concentration and behavior and fear she may be experiencing symptoms of the disease. She isn't 'present' in conversations anymore, needs things to be repeated, often forgets something we've said and asks the same question several times. She's confessed that she can't read because her mind cannot focus on the words to form coherent running thoughts and she's always rewinding tv programs because she 'blanks out' and misses parts of the dialogue. More fears are cropping up her in her mind and affecting the way she lives (not taking walks for fear of dogs, locking all the doors when all family members are home, never leaving an appliance running unattended etc). When we try to talk to her about it, she gets defensive and insists she can change and get better by herself. We experienced this denial from her mother as well and it makes me really scared that she's really headed down a slippery slope. I want her to get tested and see a doctor but she so stubbornly refuses...is there anything I can do?

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I would believe all of it to be normal or a part of hearing/vision loss if she had not confided that they were more 'mental' lapses than physical ones. She cannot focus her mind on a task or a conversation without losing that focus and thinking about other thoughts in her head and then after a few moments she 'pops' back in so to speak and immediately asks what she's missed. If it's normal, I'd be relieved, I just see it happening more and more frequently so it's quite saddening. As for friends, she chooses not to have any. We've tried getting her involved in church activities with other women her age but she's turned them down. She's wary of driving by herself, and she won't take walks without someone else present, so getting her out of the house to mingle is quite difficult.
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"Mom, I've been praying that you'll listen to us and go to the doctor. If there's nothing going on, you've lost nothing. If there's SOMETHING going on, there are simple medications that an improve it and slow it down.

"I don't want to spend my time with you trying to persuade you to do what's right. So this is my last try. I've made an appointment with a geriatric specialist for tomorrow at 1:00. I'm going with. We all love you very much and don't want to lose you. I'll pick you up tomorrow at 12:30' we'll go to the appointment, then lunch is on me. How does that sound?"

Good luck.
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Rebecca, try not to over-read in what you are seeing with your mother. Yes, she might have inherited Alzheimer's from her own mother and her mother's sisters, yet on the other hand she might not, as she could also inherit health DNA from her own father, which I assume didn't have memory issues?

Your mother could have just normal age related memory issues... I see nothing wrong with locking doors if other family members are there [that's a good habit]... I see nothing wrong with never leaving an appliance running unattended [just being safe, my parents have been doing that for over 50 years].... as for not walking because of dogs, are there dogs on her walk route that she could be afraid of?

Has your mother had her hearing checked lately? Not being able to hear will result in not following conversations... many think my Mom has dementia not realizing she's not able to hear them when they talk.... my Mom is still very sharp.

Has your mother had her eyes checked lately? Maybe she is developing cataracts or macular degeneration which makes it difficult for someone to read.

Does your mother have friends of her own age to converse with... one tends to shut down if there isn't anyone else to talk to besides just a spouse and an occasional child.
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