Should we tell my Dad


Registered User
Mar 30, 2006
My Dad (82) was diagnosed with alzheimers over a year ago. Although my Dad is aware that he's not "as he used to be" my Mum took the view that it would be best to keep from him that he has alzheimers.

She's looked after my Dad concerntrating on keeping him occupied and active following any advice she gets. He is now however becoming increasingly aware of things "not being right" and my Mum is now wondering if the time is approaching where he should be told what's wrong.

I understand that this is a no win situation and that there is no definate answer as to what should be done.

If anybody has had the dilemma of whether or not a relative with alzheimers should be told, it would be helpful to hear about your experiences. This would really help us to prepare, what ever decision is made.


Registered User
May 27, 2005
Adam23 said:
I understand that this is a no win situation and that there is no definate answer as to what should be done.
This is unfortunately very true.

Hello Adam by the way.

From my own experiences, I've seen people told of the diagnosis and it's helped - they have known that something has been wrong, and to be given a reason for it can be beneficial... especially if you think you are 'going out of your mind' to be informed "No you are not... there is a reason for this - and this is what it is".

But saying that, I've also seen people who have been informed become very depressed over it and it has appeared that more harm than good has been done.

For me, it's all about individual care... and of course who gives that news out and how it is accepted.

I work in dementia care, and I don't use the word 'dementia' unless I've discussed it with a person beforehand, or we have a really strong rapport... I will refer to 'memory problems' and use various other terms that someone would appear to be more comfortable.

Having said that though... that's me doing it as a 'job' - however a family member or a carer would do this I think is up to them and I wouldn't like to 'tell' someone how to go about it.

I hope that this information is of some use to you... if ever your Dad does ask if there is something wrong, then maybe that could be the opportunity in which to inform him of his diagnosis... but as I say, it certainly depends on how you are able to explain it and how he would be able to deal with it.

My best wishes to both you and your Dad.




Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
Hi Adam, and welcome.

My Mum is 86 and early stage, like your Dad, and still living at home. If the subject comes up, we speak of "memory problems, getting in a muddle, being confused" and so on.

Good advice from Dearth, who has seen a broader spectrum of Dementia patients than most of us here.
Most of us have a 1-to-1 relationship with our own loved ones, and it is hard to know what to say for the best.

Best wishes

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Hello Adam,
We had a definite problem telling my mother she had Alzheimer's. Just mentioning the word would cause her to say "I don't have Alzheimer's". What worked was "memory problems". But my mother had an ostrich "head in the sand" approach to emotional issues. Your father may be better able to cope.

When she worried she was losing her mind, I was able to reassure (!) her by saying "You're not losing your mind, just your memory." For some reason, this did comfort her.

You and your family know your father better than anyone else. Figure out whatever approach will be the most reassuring to him.

Good luck,



Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
Canadian Joanne said:
... saying "You're not losing your mind, just your memory." For some reason, this did comfort her.
Thanks Joanne, you just reminded me of something else.

We often try to soften the irritation Mum feels when she can't remember something or someone, by saying "well, your memory is so full of stuff that it takes you longer to sort through it all" (and we also likened it to trying to find something in a very full dresser drawer).


Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Hiya all,
Just a thought; if someone were to say to me now I had a "memory problem", if I wanted to hear the answer my next question would be "is it dementia?" If I wasn't ready to hear it, I would not ask. If I wasn't able to make that jump from memory problem to dementia in my own head, then maybe it wouldn't matter whether anyone said it to me or not. I think that you need to take the lead from your dad Adam, how much does he seem to want to know?