A question in preparation


Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
Morecambe, UK
I am asking this question because I know that I will need to know the answer very soon.

How do you tell a frail old lady with dementia that her sister, whom she has lived next door to for over 50 years, has died?

I have absolutely no idea what to do and I get the horrible feeling I am going to have to figure it out very soon.

Please help me :(



Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
I think that if and when the time sadly comes you will just have to tell her as gently as you possibly can and then be prepared for just about any reaction from total devastation to seeming indifference. Depending on how severe her dementia is she may well forget, which is more difficult to deal with in some ways.

My mother was the only person present when my dad died suddenly at home and didn't try to contact anyone because she 'didn't want to bother you'. She then very calmly sat and ate her ham sandwich while waiting for the ambulance to come after my sister arrived and found out what had happened.


Registered User
May 24, 2006
I guess if it was me i would feel that saying anything would not be absorbed

I would take her next door to view the body

Sounds morbid i know but sometimes visual things have more impact than words


Registered User
Apr 30, 2006
It took my brother the best part of a day to pluck up courage to tell mum that dad had died....(he insisted as he was the eldest it was up to him to do the dirty deed)...She merely said "oh dear" and "are we going out for tea"....some days later I took her to the chapel of rest and she kept prodding him and telling him to smile!!!! Funny now but not so amusing at the time!!!Every day for about 9 months she asked where he was......still does but not EVERY bl***y day!!!

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
I personally belong to the "if they won't remember, lie your face off" club. It depends on how advanced the dementia is. Years ago, before I wised up, I told my mother several times that my grandmother had died (30 years before, mind you). My mother always responded as though it were the first time & would start crying. I learned quickly to say "She's fine" when my mother would ask about her.

So, it's a hard one but go by her reaction. I always try to operate on the theory of causing as little pain as possible, hence all my lying.


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
I'd say it depends on her stage of dementia.

If she is at the very earliest stage, perhaps tell her.

Anyplace else, what is the point?

Why cause possible confusion, distress? And for what purpose?

.... but it is your choice to make as you have all the facts.


Registered User
Apr 30, 2006
hi blue gremlin
my mum's brother died in febuary and she still does not know,I decided not to tell her,her brother did not live close and they kept in touch by phone which stop when mum could know longer talk on the phone then dad took over and when she lived with me I did it .I just felt that her knowing would just add to her worry's and as she never asks about him (I don't think she even remember's his name) I just left it,I beleave that it's a personal choice that is different in each case if the person is asked after I think they should be told.By they way I still keep in touch with my uncles daughter who knows mum has not been told and is fine about It


Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
There have been several deaths of friends or acquaintances during my mother's illness, and there was nothing I could do to prevent her finding out as she could open and read her own post. She kept quiet about them, but I knew the news affected her. One of the last straws was the news of the death of a friend (the last person for whom she'd signed a birthday card, addressing the envelope herself) towards the end of April.

Perhaps the news of my mother's death was a "last straw" for someone else ... it can't be helped.

Perhaps it was easier when death was more normal, "in the midst of life we are in death", people were more prepared for it.



Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
Morecambe, UK
Thank you

Thanks to everyone who has offered their opinion and experience, it is really appreciated.

I will keep all your words in mind when I am inevitably faced with this situation.


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