I have now been given a firm diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease. The neurologist ran through with me the results of my brain scans - pointing out where there was atrophy, and shared the result of a lumbar puncture. He was happy to answer any and every question I had. He went on to prescribe medication, explaining that it might slow progression, but wasn't a cure.
My late mother-in-law died in 2003 of heart failure but she'd had vascular dementia for about five or six years prior to then. She'd been in hospital in the late 1990's with something cardiac or a chest infection - I forget which - and shortly before discharge she was told straight out by the hospital doctor that she had vascular dementia, but nobody ever explained to anyone exactly what this meant weither for MIL herself or the rest of the family. Present at MIL's bedside when the dioagnoosis was given were her husband , my ex-husband, my ex's sister and her husband as well as myself.