Did you tell your parent they had dementia, and why? Or if not, why?

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I just want folks opinion.

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Hi Lrock,
When my Mother asks questions about being confused or not remembering something fairly recent, and she gets upset about it, sometimes I will say, "That's the dementia, Mother." Last time, however, she freaked out and put her hands over her ears and cried, "Ooooh, don't tell me there's something WRONG with me"!
I felt terrible that I had said it. After that, I don't think I will tell her again. It's gets a bit redundant and really, it seems kind of cruel to tell them since they are already confused.
I had read on another thread that this person used to tell her Mom that she had dementia, and she had a lot more experience than I at the time, so I thought it was OK. Now, I don't think so. Even if they don't or can't respond, how do we know where that comment is going in their brain? Better left unsaid. Only WE need to know they have dementia. They will forget!
As their reality changes, our treatment of their behavior has to change, too. Our perceptions are the same, but we are watching a constantly changing picture, and must adapt accordingly. Good luck. You will get lots of answers. Weigh them all for validity, follow your instinct, and you will be fine. Hugs, Christina
We have "reminded" grandma often that she has memory problems but she forgets. I don't mean that to be funny.

At the beginning of her dementia, we tried to explain it and her doctor tried to explain it, but in the end it really doesn't matter. If she understood it in the beginning, that understanding is now also lost.

We don't bring it up anymore. Sharing this with her causes her to react with either sadness or anger and we'd rather avoid both. So we operate as well as we can with repeating ourselves constantly, leaving notes on white boards about where we are in the house, and trying to remain sane ourselves.

Hope it helps. Goodluck and hugs.
I think most people know when they have dementia-it must be very hard for them to realize that it is happening to them-the best thing you can do is to take them to their primary MD so they can get on meds as early as possible and you yourself learn as much as you can about and if possible join a neuro support group and this site is very important there are many threads here where you can join discussions so you are not alone and get support and assistance from others and where you can vent as needed so you do not feel alone because this disease will affect you greatly often even more than the person with dementia-I remember a doctor increased a med I was on even though I said the dose I was on made me spacy and after taking the stronger dose I got lost going home from church twice and let me tell you it was scary for me.
Hey there Lrock,
Everybody's dementia is different. What works for one may not work for another. I told my mom she had dementia because she was a no bs type of lady and so I said do you want the truth or do you want me to just act like nothing is wrong? And she chose the truth so I told her as gently and directly as I could.
It worked for my mom because she knew something was wrong and it was a relief for her to finally have an answer as opposed to thinking she was crazy. I told her that I would keep her safe and sound and that she didn't have to worry or be scared.
As she progressed through the disease and would experience the different symptoms that are disturbing or frightening, I would say: Aw mom, don't worry, that's just the dementia talking. don't pay it any mind. It was an obvious comfort to her and I told her every day that I thought she was the bravest person I'd ever met because she faced this terrible disease with grace and as much humor as she could muster.
My mom had the kind of dementia where she had long lucid moments and then she would fade away for awhile. It was the saddest thing I have ever witnessed and of course it was so sad for mom.
Like I said, everyone's dementia is different and the truth worked for her but might not work for you and your situation.
Could you tell us more about your parent and what symptoms they are presenting? If you are comfortable with that... one way or the other we all understand.
Please keep coming back to this site for the support you will need because you will find the most loving and caring people here like the ones above who have answered your question.
My sisters and I didn't tell our mom that she had dementia - for some of the time we weren't even sure ourselves!! When she forgot something and said she was getting so forgetful we just said that anyone past 95 years of age probably couldn't remember everything. Mom was not the type of person who liked to admit that anything was going wrong - she kept her diabetes a secret from even her closest friends for years. Because Mom had always been so clever, she would have been SO disappointed to learn that in the end, her brain was failing her. She didn't ask what was wrong and we didn't think anything would be gained by telling her. But, as others have written, not everyone is the same so I would say " Just do what you believe is the most LOVING thing to do for your mom " and don't get uptight yourself about your mom having dementia. You will need all your energy just to "go with the flow".
My mom's neurologist told her.
Nope she would not have understood anyways...kinda of explained it in another way but not the terms dementia or alzheimers.
When my mother-in-law asks why she has such a terrible memory, I just tell her that she still has all the information in her brain, but she can't access it anymore. No sense telling her she has the beginning of alzheimer's she wouldn't remember that anyway.
First I want to thank everyone for their quick response to my question. Let me tell you a little about my Mom. I knew something was up 3 years back with Mom. She used to love to read ,do crossword puzzles you name it. Mom lived on her own in a senior housing for 20 years. My Dad died very young at 46 so Mom was on her own for a long time. She lived about 45 minutes from me near my brother. This is another story let's just say he took himself out of the picture several years ago. He was never one to face responsibility . Getting back to Mom. I noticed she starting to act so differently ,she would become paranoid over little things. She stopped reading,watching TV and many other things she used to do. I began to pay her bills for her,take her on all her doctors appointments. As far as her health then she had border line high blood pressure,she also has essential tremors she was taking meds for. I did get her to see a neurologist finally! Her regular doctor whom I didn't care for wouldn't recommend a neurologist he was going to take care of my Mom's tremors his way. I had noticed her meds weren't working well and she was getting worse so that is why I made a stink and demanded he recommend a neurologist. This doctor was wonderful he was the ONLY doctor to ask me at the time, if my Mom had dementia other wise it was dismissed by others. Let us just say Mom ended up in the hospital many times for one thing or another mostly UTI. I also noticed she wasn't caring for herself the way she used to like bathing,eating and so on. I kept her independent as long as I could which was 3 years. Since then she had other medical things that required 24 hours care which I couldn't provide. As I said my brother stopped talking to her and me and left me to take care of it all. I was able to get Mom down here to a rehab center our family doctor was head of and from there it was determined Mom needed special care. She also has congestive heart failure and lung problems. She is still able to get around with a walker. I visit her in the home several times a day and take her here for visits. Getting back to her dementia the signs as I said were there 3 years back and just recently have become worse. She repeats things,she thinks folks are against her in the home at times. she gets depressed. She has good days/bad days. She always asked me why she can't remember things. I just say lots of folks have the same problem. One thing though I was able to get her to do word search games to keep her brain somewhat active. I thank-you all again for your input. As far as me I had thought it best not to tell Mom because it would scare her and would serve no person. I was just wondering if that was the right thing to do.
I think it depends on the person and what use the information is, and your 'delivery' of it. If you are answering their own question and you think they really want to know, then maybe. However, you don't want it to hang over their head each and every day, and tell them every problem they have. You don't want to brow beat them. "You have dementia and I don't" kind of thing. As things progress thay do not need to be reminded of it. It is better to reassure them that you are there for them and will help them navigate their daily needs.

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