Registered User
May 14, 2005
Good Evening

My Father suffers from Vascular Dementia. We believe him to be in the later stages of the disease. He has huge memory loss, struggles to speak to us, fails to identify family members although shows basic signs of recognition - but on occasions he can seem almost lucid although this is happening less and less.

Apart from 3 weeks respite in a care home he has been cared for by my mother at home. At present he is in an NHS hospital recovering from having fallen and broken his leg.

Yesterday my mother died and the family's dilemma is as to whether to tell my father or to say nothing. We do not wish to cause him any more anguish but feel that he may have a right to know although we believe we don't have a right to cause him grief and upset. Opinion is very divided between family and friends.

Do you have a view on this? Your opinion would be welcomed.


T Lancaster


Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
My heart goes out to you and the rest of the family. Opinions are always going to differ. I guess one member of family will have to take ultimate responsibility. There is never going to be a right or wrong decision, just a decision. (I would tell Dad, but who am I to know) Thing of you, and praying for strength for you all. Connie


Registered User
Oct 23, 2003
West Sussex
Dear TLancaster, my opinion is similar to Connies. If your Dad did not have dementia, you would not dream of keeping your Mum's death a secret from him. If you don't tell him, how will you explain her not being there etc. It is an awful thing, and he may often still forget even if you tell him. As a family we were always honest with each other, I told my Mum of any happenings, sad or happy, that way, she was still very much a part of the family. But, like Connie says, that is just my own feeling on the matter. Thinking of you at this very sad time, love She. XX


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
Dear tlancaster
in my humble opinion you must tell Dad that your mum has died.
I doubt if it will register,if it does he will most likely forget what he has been told.
I am sorry if this sounds a bit blunt,but might you have regrets in the future if you don't tell Dad?
Best wishes


Registered User
Mar 23, 2005
Dear T Lancaster,

Welcome to Talking Point (TP). I'm sorry it's under such difficult circumstances.

Did your mother herself have any thoughts on this issue?

As your mother only died yesterday, this must all be so raw, but have you considered who/how care will be provided for your father after he leaves hospital? That may also have some bearing on what you choose to tell him. If he is expecting to return home to your mother, and does have moments of lucidity, it seems that he should know of her death.

If his memory loss is profound, he will probably not retain the information, but may still retain some of the feelings of grief for a period of time. How to handle future repetition of this news is somthing that you can judge based on his initial reactions. This should possibly help to mollify those family and friends who argue against telling him.

If his mind pushes this news away, then you have the option of working out what to say when he mentions his wife in the future. For example, many people feel that when someone with dementia says that they were visitied by their mother (who might have died 50 years ago) that person should not be contradicted.

Take care,



Registered User
Apr 4, 2004
i had the same thing last year - my lovely dad died and my mother had vascular dementia. I was dreading telling her and in the end went with my cousin and told her the next day. She did not really register at all and thought I meant her father. When I said no MY father she then said 'your father's passed away ? well i didn't know your father !' Now where's my tea ?! So I just left it - but I felt better in myself that I had at least told her. Now (10 months on) she thinks he is still around 'having a sleep in the next room' 'stuck in traffic in his car' 'at home reading the paper' etc . I just agree. So I would tell him - I don't think it will register but at least you will have done your duty.I would have just one attempt at telling him and then avoid the subject (in the nicest possible way). It's awful I know but in a way it worked out better in my case as if she had registered she would have been distraught. As it is she is oblivious and fairly content. Good luck.


Registered User
Mar 12, 2005
West Sussex
Follow Dads lead

I know how you feel. We had the same experience last September when my lovely Dad, who cared so well for our Mum, had a massive stroke early one morning.
In the space of a few hours as the stroke took over, Mum,an Alzheimers sufferer was at the hospital with us and seemed to detach herself from him and after a few hours asked who the man in the bed was.

We had to admit her to a rest home that I used to work in urgently for respite care so we could concentrate on Dad in his last few days.

Mum stayed at the home and is still there now,from that day to this she has not asked about him and seems perfectly happy, so we have not mentioned him or his death to her. Her excellent psychiatrist spoke to her and says we made the right decision which lifted a load from our shoulders.

We feel that we lost them both that day in a way, but we cope as best we can.
She still says things like "it,s not worth baking for the two of us" or "we went for a lovely walk today", so maybe he is around her and we feel it would be cruel and pointless to try to get through to her that Dad is gone. It took a long time for Mum to have peace of mind when she first became ill and we don't want to risk her being upset again.

All my thoughts are with you at this horrible time, but you will get through it step by step.
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Registered User
May 20, 2003
When my Dads funeral was imminent I didnt know what to do about Mum - she had had vascular dementia for about 7 years then & wasnt talking very much or showing emotion or anything. It took me 2 days to tell her Dad had died - (you always do what seems right at the time - it often seems odd later on) - but Mum had moved into a care home on the very day Dad died. I was so scared she would have heart attack at the news - or not show any sign of understanding what I was saying.

when I did tell her I think she knew OK but didnt react 'normally' . [I took her to a qiuet lounge in the care home and said something like this "Mum I'm so sorry - I've got some bad news, its Dad ....." before I could say any more I burst into tears - I hadnt reckoned on that at that point, "Oh Chris whatever is it " she said in her 'old' voice - she was 'my' Mum again for a few seconds, then she said "hes got someone else " - thsi had been a recurring thing - so sad , Dad was with her 24 hours a day for years ! - No I said & then told her. She looked stunned adn ther ewas a little tear but not the reaction that woudl have been 'normal' for Mum. I retold her twice more over a coule of days, I hoped the home would back me up somehow - but No! their attitude was to wrap Mum in cottonwool - so much so they looked disaprovingly when I mentioned the funeral. I was at a loss.

Finally 2 days before the funeral I knew what to do - simple really - I had to ask Mum - I did this gently starting with "You remember Dad was ill & he became very ill ....... etc etc ending with "and its his funeral on Wednedsay - Will you go - you dont have to - we understand " . For the first time in years she sat bolt upright & said in a clear loud voice "i've got to be there" . I rather ungraciously edged her out of the chair & down to the Managers office , sat her oppostie him , praying Mum was still in the 'moment' and word for word went through it all agian. Mum had been loking down all the way - I thought her mind was elsewhere - suddernly she raised her head & looked the Manager in the eye "I've got to be there " she said. Manager looked down - he couldnt look Mum in the eye. Then he spoke into his desk & said "Well thats it then, can you bring her clothes in and we will have her ready - what time wil that be?" I hated him for ignoring Mum.

ANYWAY - sorry - my main point is I was feeling guilty the week befroe Dad died, as felt I'd spent more time on Mum finding her a care home that with Dad when he was in hospital - didnt know he had so little time left - so I was adamant that I would at least spend the funeral service time thinking of him .

I had a briliant idea ! Asked the Dementia Care Trust who had provided a Relief Carer on a few ocassions to provide one to accompany Mum & the rest of us from home to the Funeral & back again. As they usually only provided one in the home it took a special meeting of the charity to OK this which they did. I spoke to th e'Relief Carer who had sat with Mum only once before & said she may have to do nothing but if Mum was at all distressed to take her aside or out of the chapel . It worked a treat. The carer was brililant - staying in the backgorund & Mum was OK - no way of knowing exactly how she was - but I was so glad she was by my side. As she said she 'had to be there' .

After the funeral , the carer sat with Mum in the garden while the house was full .

Thnking back I still dontknow I did the right thing but on one of the days following the day I first told Mum that Dad had died - I showed her a very old photo of them together before they were married - Mum said "what was it , what did he die from?" I said - cancer "Yes I thought it was" she said. I couldnt believe what was I hearing - it was like Mums old voice and mind - but it only lasted a minute or so . If Mum had those clear thoughts then - ho woften did she have them but not verbalise them I wondered . I think it best to err on the side of assuming people can be thinking OK even if they cant communicate .

Above all I think it best to listen to what you are feeling when with the person & be guided by them & how you feel at the time.