Death of a Partner

Novice

Registered User
May 8, 2017
41
0
Good evening.
I used to post on this wonderful forum when Mum was diagnosed with dementia. Such a help, but I haven't done so since we lost her 5 years ago. However, I have a question.
An elderly friend's wife was diagnosed with dementia. Three years ago my friend felt he could no longer cope and very reluctantly she was admitted to a local nursing home, where he visited every other day for the whole 3 years, (COVID allowing). Three months ago he was admitted to hospital where he suddenly died. As PWD was virtually non communicative and was beginning to show signs of not recognising people, and as she had not asked once where her husband was over those three months, it was decided by the family with the advice of the nursing home not to upset PWD by telling her her husband had died. Remembering my time with Mum and things I had learned from various dementia courses I had been on, I felt, but never voiced, the feeling she should have been told, remembering that PWD have emotional feelings even if they cant remember what happened to cause those feelings. I guess PWD would have had warm feelings when her husband was there even if she was not always sure who he was although he always took photo albums, books of her favourite animals or places, and computer resources to stimulate her. She never knew he was ill, did not visit him in hospital and did not attend the funeral. Now as she has not seen him for some while.... she has declared "M is dead" and has given up eating or drinking and taken to her bed.
Does anyone have any experience with this scenario? Would it be better if PWD had been told of the passing of her spouse? Thank you.
 

try again

Registered User
Jun 21, 2018
1,308
0
Why tell someone who will forget soon after only to then tell them again? Seems cruel.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
24,701
0
South coast
There are no hard and fast rules about telling someone with dementia that their spouse/partner has died, although I would suggest that they are only told once as their emotional memory will make them feel that something terrible has happened, although they cant remember what.

From your description of your friends wife she was obviously in advanced stages of dementia and TBH, if I were her family I would not have told her either

Now as she has not seen him for some while.... she has declared "M is dead" and has given up eating or drinking and taken to her bed.
This is guesswork, but as she was in advanced stages it may be that she is naturally coming to the end of her life - becoming bedbound and stopping eating and drinking is part of the process. There is also a phenomenon called Terminal Lucidity, where the PWD near the end, becomes lucid again.
I dont know, obviously, but it may be that this is what is happening.

Personally, I doubt that telling her that her husband had died would have changed anything.