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How to tell them they may have dementia

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Caseys, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Caseys

    Caseys Registered User

    Dec 10, 2015
    My husband won't post but has asked me to ask you kind people how he can tell his mother we, and her doctor, believe she has dementia (waiting for memory clinic). We believe she knows on some level as she will narrate manically when we are out as though she is trying to fix a memory about what she is doing. She forgets words, and conversations, and relationships. And doesn't remember being in hospital for a week plus recently where several serious conditions were explained but now, when we remind her, claims 'nobody told me!' As we are reaching the going into home position we feel we should be honest and tell her dementia is a factor but not sure how to tell her.
  2. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    I'm not sure I would but there are a lot of different opinions. I think dementia is a frightening label and I can't see why it is necessary to upset someone in the short term when they are going to forget it very quickly.

    You can talk about going into a home, hotel, place where she can have help on hand, place her doctor has recommended to get her strength back............................whatever will suit her but I can only see the point in telling someone if it will help them on their journey - will it? Does she need to get her affairs in order? Does she need to do Power of Attorney? Even then, I did all this with my Mum and never did tell her she had dementia (must have forgotten lol). She would have been devastated and i couldn't see why i would want to upset her.

    Just my opinion. Good luck x
  3. Caseys

    Caseys Registered User

    Dec 10, 2015
    Thanks. That's very fair. I think our instinct so far has been to not tell her. She's difficult but has been through so much we don't want to hurt her. Thank you for your honest response xx
  4. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    TBH, I wouldnt tell her. She is unlikely to remember and it will probably upset her. I just tell mum that she has problems with her memory rather than use the dementia word.
    She will be told at the memory clinic if she has dementia, but if shes anything like mum she will not be able to retain this information.
  5. Bear44

    Bear44 Registered User

    Sep 28, 2015
    I didn't tell my dad he has dementia either. I explained to him that it is just normal aging of his brain.
  6. reedysue

    reedysue Registered User

    Nov 4, 2014
    The consultant asked my mum if she wanted to know her diagnosis and she said of course but now 9 months later she can't remember him telling her anyway.
  7. Toddleo

    Toddleo Registered User

    Oct 7, 2015
    I agree wholeheartedly with this; we have never told our mum, we just say that she's 82, and emphasise how brilliantly her hips/knees/ears are working, and that she has poorly eyesight and trouble remembering - consequently, she thinks she is doing really well for her age (and then immediately forgets, obviously!!)
  8. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    My mother was told by her GP but had forgotten by the time she got home maybe 15 minutes later.
    We did remind her once or twice, but very soon realised there was no point when she was only going to forget again so quickly. Plus, she didn't believe us and in any case didn't seem at all aware that there was anything wrong with her, so it just made her upset and angry, and thinking we were all 'conspiring against' her.
  9. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    Mum was told at the outset of her testing, by me, the GP and the Memory Clinic, that some form of Dementia might be responsible for her " colander brain". ie the fact that her brain no longer retained some information, memories or skills. She was actually relieved to have a diagnosis. Once the mixed Dementia took a greater hold, we still used to talk about her holey brain and how the holes must be spreading.
    She was a GrandMaster in the art of Putting on a Good Face and getting the uninformed to believe that there was nothing wrong with her.
  10. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    Looking ahead, with the benefit of hindsight, my children know I would want any available treatment but I wouldn't want to be told.

    If in doubt, don't. :)
  11. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    I agree. My Mum has forgot she was ever told and there is no benefit for her in knowing. I tell her its just memory problems related to her age.

    Listen to your gut on this one.

  12. Countryboy

    Countryboy Registered User

    Mar 17, 2005
    sorry but Alzheimer’s and all Dementias have been discussed on TV & the Media now for over twenty year I have difficult to believe that person would not realize or suspect they have it ok we know load of people don’t want to accept they have dementia but obviously their choice , if you got it you got it hiding won’t make it go away only my personal view and I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 16½ years ago
  13. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    Hi Tony I agree with you in many ways - do you think there is a difference though between younger people and much older people? I think sometimes that people in their 80s and 90s often already frail and sometimes with many other health problems?
  14. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Wigan, Lancs
    My mum was asked by the consultant if she wanted to be told of her diagnosis and she said 'yes'. When he told her she dismisssed it -'I don't think I've got dementia!' but by the same token she has never accepted her diagnosis of type 2 diabetes which she was diagnosed with long before she started with dementia.

    She has now forgotten this conversation and we refer to her 'memory problems', and that she feels a bit 'muzzy headed' (her words).

    My dad however was extremely angry and upset when told of his diagnosis -so it really depends on your mum and how you think she will react.
  15. Suzanna1969

    Suzanna1969 Registered User

    Mar 28, 2015
    I don't think that telling her will serve any purpose. As the posters above have said, it will probably just cause huge distress and she will then forget, so you will either have to upset her again by telling her again or just say, as I do to my Mum, 'Oh you're just having a bad day' or 'I forget stuff too, don't worry'.

    Quite often she says 'My brain doesn't work properly anymore, it's all fuzzy' or, when really upset and crying, 'I'm going mad aren't I?' No way am I going to tell her she has Dementia, especially when she had to witness her sister and her mother succumb to this horrendous disease.

    Would I want to know if it was me? Yes. Could I bear it? No.
  16. Caseys

    Caseys Registered User

    Dec 10, 2015
    Our instinct is not to tell her!
  17. Caseys

    Caseys Registered User

    Dec 10, 2015
    Yes I think she would forget too!
  18. Caseys

    Caseys Registered User

    Dec 10, 2015
    Gut says don't tell her. We think she is trying to hide it sometimes but today had major upset with my husband when he told her he had an appointment at a home despite saying last week she thought it was a good idea. Focusing on her health needs and not the memory so will try to keep it from her as long as we can as think it will devastate her - although she is likely to forget :-/ xx
  19. Caseys

    Caseys Registered User

    Dec 10, 2015
    I think you're all right. She is still essentially happy, largely because she doesn't believe her other health issues and I think at some level she knows but would be devastated to find out so we will try to avoid it if we can
  20. Countryboy

    Countryboy Registered User

    Mar 17, 2005
    I'm confused because we heard the various dementia groups such as Alzheimer's Society or Deep they talk of help in the community help in Banks Shops shopping precincts busses trains etc how can people in the community shop assistants help and support those in the community if (a) they don't know who has dementia (b) those with dementia doesn't know their self just isn't going to happen

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