Should you tell your loved one they have Alzheimer's?

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We were told my mother had Alzheimers a couple of years ago and she's now mid-stage. My brother and I agreed not to tell her at the time. She now has a caregiver (we call her a companion) four days a week for a few hours a day and we are upping it to five days a week. She is quite angry; knows she is forgetful but doesn't have a clue as to how much; and is now quite angry about the extra hours and says she doesn't need a babysitter. I'm looking for opinions to be frank about her Alzheimers, as a way of more explanation to her. Of course, she'll probably just say we're lying. Thoughts or ideas anyone?

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My belief is that people are often relieved that there is a reason for the changes they sense. You can't go back, but you can take action now. I'd let her know exactly where she is in the disease process.
Tell her that you will do everything to help her get along well. Expect her to be angry. Make sure her doctor is doing whatever can be done when it comes to medications. She'll be changing with time, so keeping in contact with the doctor is important.
I like the idea of calling the caregiver a companion. Use respectful terms and try not to argue. Arguing will get you no where. Sometimes you will just have to let her be angry until she gets over it. If you can distract her, that's good of course, but if you can't, let it go. Good luck. This is never easy.
How ironic..this came up with my Mom and I just yesterday....She read the brochure that came with her additional Alzheimers medication and she definitely refused to accept it...she said I DO NOT HAVE ALZHEIMERS !!! Then she pointedly asked me if she has it ...after a second of panic, I said as calmly as I could, " Mom, just take this new medicine it will help you feel better...this medicine is for alot of different things and for your memory, but you will feel better in a little while..." then, as quick as she was to react to be, then she said "ok, ok" and that was it !!! But I still feel like I chickened out, but at the same time I felt it was for the best, My Dad is a heart patient, and he does not need any extra stress than he already has with my Mom...I don't know what is going to happen but another reason that I said what I said is that my Aunt, her favorite sister-in-law who she was very, very close to died less than 2 yrs ago from Mom and Dad visited her in the hospice (which I did not agree to her doing-Mom was already diagnosed with Alzheimers) and needless to say my Aunt was in bad, bad shape who didn't even know my Mom anymore...I didn't say anything and bit my tongue but just hope that Mom doesn't realize she may become the same way...I get mad from time to time because this is such a devastating and robbing disease...find a cure !!! People's last years shouldn't be spent not knowing their families and other loved one !!! Maybe someday...just love, cherish, respect and protect your loved ones....
When I first found out mom had Dementia I didn't tell her. I would give her this one pill for dementia and she ask what it was for I told her to help her memory. Then one day at the Dr. he ask me in front of her about her dementia. He was a new Dr. When we left mom just said so that is what is wrong with me I have dementia. She was scared but I told her I would always be her for her and take care of her and she seemed to except it.
We've told my Grandma she has dementia. She'll ask sometimes about why she can't remember things and we'll talk about her having dementia. She's pretty calm about it and seems to be okay with us talking to her about it. We basically describe it to her as dementia is something you sometimes get when you get older and it causes her to have trouble remembering things. But we tell her that's why we're here to help her when she does forget. We also encourage her to use a little notepad beside her chair to write things down when she thinks about it. She'll tell me that she wants to ask my dad something later when he comes over, so I'll tell her to write it down in her little notepad and then when my dad comes over, I'll remind her that she wanted to ask him something and she'll take her book out and have it there. She also was having trouble remembering where my Grandfather is buried, so she wrote it down in her book so when she asks, I can remind her to look in her book. It helps that it's in her handwriting I think.
Hi all - Just an update - we never have told Mom that she has AD. A hospital employee let her read a page that said she has it and it was horrible for an hour until after she had the procedure she was there for. Once she came out of anesthesia, she didn't directly remember, but a sad demeanor followed her for several days. It won't happen again. In spite of that, she still thinks she only has a little forgetfulness. Oh, and she loves the caregiver now!
I agree with Carol that sometimes people are relieved to know why they are having the symptoms they are having, and to know that everything possible is being done for them.

I am very glad that my husband knows and accepts that he has Lewy Body Dementia. We can both direct our frustration at our mutual enemy, Lewy.

But there are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to dementia. Will your mother remember tomorrow what you tell her today? Will she argue against it not just today while she is absorbing the shock of the news, but day after day? Will the message inspire her to be more cooperative or more rebellous or to give up altogether? You know your mother and you know what she is like at the current level of the disease. You and your brother need to apply what you know, and make a decision in love.

My husband was an engineer. Actions and consequences, cause and effect, measurable data is what he has worked with all his life. I cannot imagine not telling him what is going on in his own body. My mother, on the other hand, has used selectve denial as a coping mechanism all her life. My sisters and I cannot imagine using the D word or Alzeheimer's in front of her. Why cause pain?

Bless you for caring and trying to do the right thing. Accept that sometimes the "right" thing is unknowable. Do your best; act in love. That is all any of us can do.
One of the ladies my dad hired to help out at home told mom she had dementia and my mom got so mad! Now we just tell her she's getting older and its just what happens to people as they get older. She usually agrees with what we tell her ( on her good days)
My Dad has known he has dementia since he was given the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. He admits he has the disease. He also has tendencies to use the fact the he has AD as an excuse for various behaviors. If he acts out in a way that he shouldn't, or does something he knows he shouldn't, he'll say that its not his fault, he has Alzheimer's. So he still has that thought process!
Mom has Vascular Dementia. She was the primary caregiver for her husband and lived with his struggles with Alz for 6 years before he passed. She lived it, she knows.

I'm am 100% honest with her about her disease, as is her physician, and she's always been incredibly grateful for our honesty. I've asked her if she'd rather I gloss over things to ease her anxiety and she said no. "I'll know when you are avoiding the topic, I know something is wrong with me. I'd much rather know what's happening!!" The truth seems to ease her anxiety more than "playing along."

That said - we all know everyone is different. I know that what works for her might not be right for your mom. But if I were in her shoes, I'd want to know too. Having some kind of explanation for all these rapid changes has eased, not increased, my mothers anxiety; she doesn't think she's going crazy anymore.

Best of luck finding a good solution. Caretaking is all about "on the job training" adapt to her changes, go with the flow, figure out if she'd feel reassured to know there is a medical reason WHY things are so different for her. If you decide to wait until she probably won't understand, you could be waiting a very long time and may be creating more anxiety for her that simply telling her she has a diagnosis of ALZ and that you are here with her and you are going to get through this as a team.

Mom and I make a great team :)
I agree with Carol and Jeanne. Depending on the personality of the person, the reactions to a diagnosisof Alzheimers/Dementia are varied. My MIL had advancing Alzheimers, but we never called it that. I did tell her she was experiencing severe memory problems and would always follow with the fact that it is very common at the age of 90 to be experiencing these symptoms. She seemed to react well to this kind of reasoning and it made her feel not quite so alone in this memory loss. Of course, she knew in her heart what was happening, but denial is common - and I will probably want to deny it as well if it happens to me. But when you explain the certain things they are forgetting, it seems to help. Patience and a sense of humor about it all does help too.

If she thinks you are lying, what of it, it could be her way of denial. Take care.


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