What to tell and not to tell Mum?

Discussion in 'Middle - later stages of dementia' started by Linbrusco, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    Mum 74 has moderate Alz, but has declined further since Christmas.
    Her ability to retain information is becoming non existent, and her incessant questions and repeating herself never ending.
    Unfortunately I'm at the point where I pick and choose what to tell her to save me the stress to be honest.
    Especially when it comes to news/bad news within the family.

    I get the impression that my siblings and Mums sisters think Mum should be told, but as I am with Mum day in day out, I'm more of the impression what she doesn't know (or remember) won't hurt her.

    Anyone the same?
  2. loveahug

    loveahug Registered User

    Nov 28, 2012
    Moved to Leicester
    I have been at odds with my brother about telling mum my other brother died last year. Bro keeps insisting she 'should' be told, but I know she will be devastated and it could well trigger a heart attack but if not she will go downhill because she will remember something dreadful has happened but not the detail. I don't see why we should be that cruel to her.... I can't stop him telling her and, thank goodness, he hasn't broached the subject since she went into a home earlier on in the year. It's such a difficult area for all concerned.
  3. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Im with you on this one Linbrusco
    Sometimes Mum is fairly lucid and once she asked if her brothers and sister were still alive. I said, no - she was the last one now and she accepted that, but I wouldnt volunteer the information.
    People who dont understand think that they "must" know deep down or that if you keep on telling them it "must" somehow sink in. But its not true.
  4. katek

    katek Registered User

    Jan 19, 2015

    I would agree with you too. You are just 'withholding' information rather than telling her an out and out lie which many people are more uncomfortable with doing. Either way it's only going to upset her, and eventually she might get to the stage (like my father) where she's not going to know whether she's even got children, or what children are.

    My sister died two years ago, and my mother did feel she wanted to tell my father, even though he was beyond the stage where he would really understand. (Your mother sounds as if she would understand, therefore be upset. My father just said "That's good then!" which was just an example of a range of phrases he used in reply to anything anyone told him - indicative that he didn't actually really understand what they meant. Now he doesn't even use real words or understand anything.
  5. Acco

    Acco Registered User

    Oct 3, 2011
    I have faced the same dilemma a number of times over the years and more recently following a bereavement and diagnosis of dementia of two of my wifes very close cousins. Also, the recent birth of a daughter in the family of a dear friend. I have chosen to say nothing to my wife about her cousins but have told her of the happy event. Happy events are something we should all share but I do not see any reason to cause possible unnecessary distress or anxiety to my wife by telling her about something which may upset her even for a brief moment. I hope this and other posts on the forum help you in deciding what is best for your mum and yourself.
  6. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    I'm not alone then :)

    Trying to tell Mums 3 sisters not to tell Mum anything important or upsetting is another issue.
    The other week when I got home from work Mum came over to tell me that her sister had called. She had told her that their nephew was in hospital.
    But thats all Mum could remember from the conversation.
    So I had to ring my Aunt and find out what was happening, and told her that they were not to phone Mum up and tell her anything significant like that as it causes upset and she cannot retain information. Aunt says " well she sounded fine on the phone and asked me questions"

    Now every day Mum asks me if her nephew is still in hospital ( she remembers that much)
    But then she wants explained over and over why hes in hospital, why hasn't her sister phoned her, no one told her anything ( her other sister did) and so it goes on.
  7. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
  8. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    MIL would remember initial stress of something happening but would not recall the outcome. This would lead to hours of panic phone calls asking what was happening and what she should do. Thankfully most of this would be washed away when she slept.

    We had various people try to teach her things constantly and think if they kept on the information would sink in.
  9. Babymare01

    Babymare01 Registered User

    Apr 22, 2015
    Hi there

    Having always been taught not to lie to your parents I previously tried to be honest with my mum but slowly realised this only distressed her and then me (seeing my mum so distressed). Eventually I realised mum didn't hold the information I told her so kept asking same questions so was constantly distressed so I started telling white lies. It felt wrong at beginning but now I see I was right because mum was more at peace. Mum now no longer asks these questions. xxx
  10. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    I am firmly of the opinion that we should not tell our loved ones distressing news. When my mother kept asking to see her parents (both my grandparents died in 1970), I would agree and say we would go the day after. If she asked where they were, I would give the name of the town the cemetery is in. Right at the very beginning of this long journey, I told my mother my grandmother was dead, as she was asking where she was. Absolute floods of tears - I learned my lesson very quickly.
  11. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    Fife Scotland
    I only tell mum what she needs to know, and what I think she needs to know. If I tell her something dramatic or something that is wrong with me or my husband, then she has to have that too. When she finally discovered she had dementia.........bad cop here, she asked what was wrong with her and because it had been a bad day told her "Dementia".
    Then and now she blames the illness for things, <of course I dementia, I can't help it> and sometimes is quite "proud" she has something really awful.
  12. Anotherdamnlol

    Anotherdamnlol Registered User

    May 2, 2015
    Totally agree, only tell good news, nothing distressing or worrying. And never contradict them.

    I struggle with this sometimes, today my mum kept asking me where I was taking her when she gets out of hospital. I told her back to the care home and she was distressed then for the next two hours. I should have just said back to your flat. You live and learn.
    Then when we got back to the hospital she was distressed and I had to pretend she was just there to have a rest for an hour while I went to do the food shop and I would be back for her later.
  13. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    I had to tell Mum yesterday that her Aunt was in hospital. Mums Aunt is 85 and not in best of health. Being only 10 yrs apart in age, they have always been quite close.

    Mum wasn't upset, but she did ask me was her Aunt her mothers sister.
    Then it started a whole series of questions about who was dead or alive, and who died from what, and who had what illness or cancer, and how old her Mum was when she died, and who was her Aunt married to again, and when did her Uncle die.

    Later on, when I phoned Mum to say I would take her up to the hospital to see her Aunt, she couldn't remember anything of course.
    She knows her Aunt to look at, but I do wonder if she always knows the family connection now, or just the fact that she's "her Aunt" ?

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