mylovelymama Asked March 2012

My mom was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Should I explain to her that she has dementia?

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She has all the symptoms, hallucanations, aggitation, sleepness, paranoid, suspicion, angry at times and depression. Thanks for your help.

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Lilygirl Mar 2012
My dad had a stroke which worsened his dementia. He too has Alzheimer's. We did tell him he had a stroke because he wanted to know why he had been in the hospital. Dad has lived with us for 3 mos now & we have never mentioned Alzheimer's. Dad is doing so much better, has gone from a wheelchair to a cane. . Therapeutic lying is a caregiver's best friend. The dementia is such a challenge. I am still learning what works best. Good luck to you & your mom!
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PCVS Mar 2012
My mother is in the throes of later stage Alzheimers and no longer wonders what's happening to her mind. Earlier, of course, she noticed things were wrong. She used to have a photographic memory! Once she siad to me, "I think I'm losing my mind!" I wasn't really thinking (I was doing something that needed some attention at the time) when I replied, "Well, did you need it for anything?" That startled us both and we laughed. It was much better than my usual fumbling to reassure her.
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ChristinaW Mar 2012
"It depends" is perfectly solid as a determining factor, otherwise everything would be black or white. Don't you remember the Churkendoose, Jeannegibbs?!
Haha! I am honored that "you were going to say what (I) said!"
Hugs, Christina
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jeannegibbs Mar 2012
I was going to say what Christina said. It really does depend on the personality and outlook of the person. My husband (an engineer) had many lucid periods early in his Lewy Body Dementia and he really wanted to know what was wrong with him. In a way it was comforting to have a name for the condition, and face the worst, rather than imagine who-knows-what. I always tell him you have a very good brain and an excellent memory, but Lewy isn't letting them work right just now. I can't imagine not telling him. On the other hand, my mother's life-long coping mechanism has been denial. She now has mild cognitive imapirment, which none of us has spelled out to her, and if she developed more pronounced dementia, I'm not at all sure it would be kind to tell her.

So, though it sounds wishy-washy, I really think the correct answer is "It depends."
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NancyH Mar 2012
I haven't told my mother-in-law that she has dementia/alz. She wouldn't remember it, but just in case she miraculously did, I don't think it's necessary. She just knows her memory has gone A.W.O.L.
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ChristinaW Mar 2012
Hi mlm,
To tell or not to tell, I think depends on what her personality is like. If she has been an up front, honest person, able to communicate freely, you could probably tell her in the early stages, as you begin to alter environment and schedules to see to her care.
If she has throughout her life been prone to avoiding reality, uncommunicative, and helpless, don't tell her. It won't do any good.
You know her and have to discern her unique situation. However, once they have dementia, it only gets worse and the most important thing becomes caring for them, not talking about it.
Whatever you do, don't argue with her or try to convince her of something that she THINKS is happening. Simply say, "It's OK, Mom. I'll take care of it", and you will save a lot of stress. God Bless You.
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cindyeb Mar 2012
Dear honeycomb,
My story is so similar to yours. My family has made me "the bad guy" for allowing my mom the right to try living on her own. She just went home last week after living with me for almost 3 months. She was in the hospital and when it was time for her to be released, nobody bothered to offer to help, but me! She is 79 and has early dementia. So I had to deal with her mood swings, temper changes, forgetfulness and just having an extra person living with me. My family didn't lift a finger financially, emotionally or did they offer to help with meals, pick up her meds, take care of her kitty, but they were quick to give advice!! I made the decision to let her go home and see if she can make it on her own as long as she was safe. So far so good. I'm still the only one who does her grocery shopping, gets her meds at the drugstore and makes cigarette runs for her. I've learned to finally put my foot down when she can't find her cigarettes or her bills, when I know I just brought them into her house! I can't afford to drive down and do this every other day any more. I feel as if I've done what I can. Now it's someone else's turn. It's quite a journey isn't it?! Gentle Hugs!!
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My mother cared for her mother, my father, and her sister. After my Grandma died from Alzheimer's related illnesses, all my Dad said he wanted to know if he ever had Alzheimer's so he didn't have to live or die like that. I have it in my living will if I am ever diagnosed all medications and treatment are to be withheld. There are things worse than death, and Alzheimer's is one of them. Please do not respond with hateful emails. I'm using the benefit of hindsight. I wish I'd honored my father's wishes and let him know. It was selfish of my Mom to deny him the option of ending his life. My aunt's children did. All medications were withheld, and she died peacefully. My opinion is have the talk and give people the choice BEFORE they are diagnosed. If they have seen or lived with someone suffering-horribly suffering-and trapped in their bodies like that, make sure they make a choice to end life or endure the indignities and physical horrors that are coming.
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TheFixer Mar 2012
My mother had a stroke 3 years ago and now has vascular dementia. She knows she has problems because of the stroke, but she can't remember the word 'stroke' so we don't mention the dementia. She'll say my brain doesn't work right and I'll respond that the stroke was hard on her. She has a hard time finding the right words to express herself and making connections that are obvious to others. So she's very aware that she not quite right but we reassure her that we understand and are there to help, I believe that means more to her than placing a name on an illness she can't understand or remember. Best Wishes.
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honeycomb Mar 2012
dear mylovelymama,
I am feeling your pain. It's a heartache that is so deep it's almost impossible to explain. I am my mothers 24/7 caregiver and when my mother was diagnosed I strugled to make this decision of whether or not to tell her. I have 4 sibblings and they all felt as though mom should be told. Deep down in my core I felt as though this was the wrong decision. So they went against me and told her. In her lucid times she was devestated by the news and became very depressed. In times when she was not lucid she could not understand the concept of being ill. So this is what I did. I put my foot down and forbid my sibblings from discussing any more of this nonsense. She is happy and loving and she figured it out on her oun and she has her dignity . She did it her way. and for as long as she is alive thats what I want for her, some sense of indipendence. Why tell her if she can't remember? Shes living her life as full as she can w/ dementia, she doesn't need to be reminded every time my sibblings see her. I hope that this helps. You will be on my mind and in my prayers
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