I've just learned my 78 year old Mother has Alzheimer's/Dementia. She doesn't know I know -- I could use any words of encouragement.

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MammaSarg, learn as much as you can about Alzheimer's/Dementia so that you aren't surprised when your Mom does something out of the norm.

My boss's wife had Alzheimer's for 15 years and in her case she was very easy to care for with his close attention, and with the help of a caregiver during the last two years of her illness. I am hoping your Mom's case she will be easy. Let's hope so.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the blue section and click on ALZHEIMER'S CARE.... lot of excellent articles.

And keep us up-to-date, and come here often if you have any questions, we would love to help you any way we can through this website.
She doesn't know you know - does she know that she has dementia?

How did this come about? Is it a recent diagnosis?

In general, I personally feel that the knots people can tie themselves in trying to conceal both facts and who knows what about whom tend just to make everything worse. Assuming you don't need to keep this information from your mother, will you not be able to work round to talking to her about it?
I take it that your mother does know, right?

Gather words of encouragement and give them to your mother! Reassure her that you will always be there for her, that you are not bothered by her memory lapses, that if she has trouble with some tasks help will be available, that you will never abandon her, etc. (DO NOT promise that she'll never go to a care center. The future is uncertain.)

I think you can do this reassuring without mentioning the diagnosis. She may eventually feel better if you know and she'll tell you, but until then just go with the observable situation.

My mother never knew she had dementia. She acknowledged "memory problems." When she worried about her memory in the nursing home my sisters and I reassured her that she was safe and cared for. As I was ending a visit she said, "Wait! I don't remember where I live! How will I get home?" I assured her that all of the helpers knew where she lived and would gladly push her to her room when she was ready. "That's one of the good things of living here. Many residents have some memory problems and the helpers all know how to help them."

My husband knew his diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia. It took a while of constant reassurance but he eventually simply accepted that he was safe and cared for. We'd go into a medical appointment and he'd say, "Jeanne needs to be here too. She is my memory."

I don't mean to deny that she has infirmities -- that would be insulting. But to convince her that she'll be safe in spite of them. "I know it must be very annoying to forget things! I'll help you remember the important things, like when your favorite show is on, and you can just retire from the minor things, like when tax is due!" Remind her of other people who are there for her. Her doctor. The cleaning lady. A personal care attendant. Staff at the Adult Day Program. Perhaps eventually the people in a care center. She needs to know above all that she is safe and that she is loved.
My MIL would not leave my FIL go to the dr with her, very private. He denied she had "memory issues",, even when we would catch her putting food in her purse (ribs,, messy,, no foil. .just ribs..) Then one day he showed me her Aricept, and asked me what it was for. OK then... he was still in denial. And so was she, I have no idea what her Dr told her that was for..
I had a parent who was everything to me. He developed dementia. Colleagues would see him and say, 'what a damn shame, he is not there'. My sibs cut out and hide it from their kids. I did the exact opposite. My kids saw something important but I also did not force it. They cherished those times. I sadly hoped that when my parent was much older I would finally have 'time' with him, but that was stolen by the disease. But after this has passed my conclusion was this: if there is brain shrinkage, then know that this disease is winning and you cannot stop it; know that death and end of life can be so very hard, maybe evolution or the Lord gave us this disease to dampen the matter to those facing death, maybe it is the stiffest of drinks before the end; but please also listen to this last piece. I was able to gain an award for my parent from the president, and went to meet the same. The Alzh Assoc. told my other parent (a mean power tripper at best) who is not a good person to keep my parent from the public because in their words, is this how your parent would have wanted remembered?' I did not agree but I gave in. After I returned and showed the award to this effected parent they said to me 'why didn't you take me'. I was so sad. I swung for the fence, hit a HR, but did not end up taking my parent. So I then contacted my regional professional sports team who honored this same person before 65K. That was hard to handle!!!!!!! But it was a day I will never forget for good reasons. The one bad moment was a child who knew my parent came to him, saw something she did not plan for, and busted into tears. Over the years, this has actually happened a few times. My parent was a very loved person. Just think what would (dad or mother) have wanted and if you were extremely close and feel you know, do that and do what make you feel better. You could make the wrong decision, but your act is personal and in good intentions. Now, would I want to know or tell my parent or want the public to know - this is personal to you. All that does not matter. Time goes on and so do the same watchful eyes. But I also look at it this way. I have often worked with kids with intellectual disabilities. Often in the US they are in homes or programs that just happen to keep them away from the mainstream. You almost do not think there are really as many MR/ID people anymore because you do not see them. Same goes with deaf people. But about 80% over 80 are going to have some memory issues or version of dementia. I personally feel that the world needs to know that every family will deal with dementia and we as a society, more than a family or person, need to 'fix' this. Also, what is possibly relevant was a PBS report here in the US of 10 year research of a town in Colombia, totally isolated, and everyone is related to some degree. Everyone there has the markers for early onset dementia. But still after 10 year of this perfect research situation, they have learned nothing to help. So I want to say take fish oils or choline or this or that, but really right now we need to be atop of our affairs so our kids (if one has then) has a earlier go.
My Mom had dementia for several years which did not progress very much. She could read and could recall if given a pathway back to her personal history with updates. This may not work for your Mom, but helped my Mom tremendously. Write a history of her original family, and of her own family, and update it periodically. You can include newspaper clippings of interesting events. It really helped Mom to stay sharp, and combat the dementia and the isolation that comes with that condition which further exacerbates confusion.  I used a very large font for ease of reading.
I believe it is her right to know. I would not dwell on it though. When my Mom got her diagnosis at 75yo she was very sad and afraid what the future would bring, as anyone would be. I routinely reassured her that she was loved. I promised that I would always advocate for her and make sure that she was safe and well taken care of. After all... that is all you can do. I think that brought her a lot of comfort. I never promised that I would do the care knowing I had no crystal ball. My Mom lived with me for 10yrs until her death. We kept things routine, lived in the moment & kept our attitude light and easy. It was a pleasure and experience that has brought me much contentment & peace. I thank God for the patience, strength, and the ability to ask for and accept help when I needed it. I did get a lot of help. Please understand and know that only you knows what is best for YOU and your Mom. My best advise would be healthy attitude and not allowing yourself to get overwhelmed with the what is in the future. Live for today!
Reading the comments for this question thus far, I felt the compassion, poignancy, and love that commenters had for their loved ones. You are such beautiful people.
It took me back to a lunch outing my two sisters and I had with our beloved mother. We were all sitting at the table and Mom said she felt she was getting forgetful. I said, well, there is something called Age-Related Cognitive Deficit in the DSM. We kind of joked about it, mentioning all of us were middle-aged and could relate. But Mom looked at us so seriously and said, "I hope I don't have Alzheimers." A year later, I was given the diagnosis by her PC after neuropsych testing, and we agreed we would never tell her. I believe she Knew, but it seemed counterproductive to state it aloud. Mom was such a trusting soul, possessing a deep faith in God, certain that we (also two brothers) would never harm or abandon her. We made every effort to provide her with the best quality of life, and a good quality it was...with the brakes majorly put on the disease for 3 years through our orchestrations for her.
As the commenter above stated, Mom meant everything to the five of us. She was a smart, thoughtful, giving, kind, tolerant woman whose life mantra (Every cloud has a silver lining) I've adopted myself, and a role model I've strived to emulate. Her mother died when she was 9, she was raised in an orphanage, our father died suddenly when she was 43 with 5 young children. Yet her strong character led her to approach and manage these tragedies with grace and dignity. We observed these same qualities as her Alzheimers progressed but never felt it important, or purposeful, to say, "we know you have Alzheimers."
Read "Alzheimer's from the Inside Out" by Richard Taylor. Better to discuss your mother's wishes for her future, while she is still able to express them.
If this is "Early Onset" - don't freak out and keep your mom from freaking out.

My DH took the verbal test and has no dementia - but he does have sundowners - I have had amazing success with Organic Iodine - 1 drop daily - and supplement with Iodoral 1/2 tablet and 1 tiny Kelp capsule.

For the first time in many months, he now knows who I am and that we live and own the house we're in. He knows where the bathroom is again!!

Back in the 1970's, dementia was linked to poor nutrition - I'm old enough to remember that. If you google it, we have a terrible Iodine deficiency nation-wide and possibly world-wide. If you decide to use Iodine drops, you need food-grade Iodine. I'd be happy to tell you what and where I get mine if you're interested.

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