He knows he has a problem with his memory and asks me why. What should I say?

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So much depends on the person. My mother gets angry if I mention the D word. She'll tell me that nothing is wrong with her and she's not crazy. There's no point in upsetting her, so I don't mention it. Other people have less trouble accepting what is going on with them. I have one friend who has Alzheimer's and he'll come right out and tell you. He's a very pleasant person who does well even with the disease. He is in an earlier stage.

Joannona, you know your husband well, so you'll know the best way for him. Let us know how it goes.
Helpful Answer (17)

Out of respect for your husband I believe he has a right to know. How can he participate in his own care and make his own decisions while he can if he doesn't have all the information? I understand you want to protect him but please don't leave him wondering and worrying about why his memory is failing him.
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As JessieBelle said you know your husband so you'll get it right for him.
I have Lewy Bodies and I'm glad that I know, it still gives me a chance to make decisions about the future, while I still remember what's important to me.
My BIL has a dementia and I told him his diagnosis, he was glad of the truth though now he can't remember it and often asks what's wrong. My answer is `your mind worked hard all your life, now it's having a rest and slowing down.' He seems ok with this idea as he knows his body has slowed down. Good luck.
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If he has been diagnosed with Dementia then tell him.
If you know the type tell him that as well.
He may not grasp it but he may.
And he may forget that you have told him.
I read once that it is possible that a person that has been diagnosed with dementia may have been "covering up" or "hiding" symptoms for as long as 10 years before others start to see little signs. If this is the case with your husband I am sure that he is aware that he has a problem and it may be a relief to put a name to it. Relief yes but frightening as well since we all know the progress and outcome.
Knowing what is going on he can participate as much as he can in early decisions.
How much does he want you to do?
What does he want you to do if and or when you can no longer care for him yourself or at home?
Do you want to do that trip that you have been putting off for years? He might be able to do it now but not in 9 or 12 months.
Does he want his friends to know? Or when to tell them.
There are a lot of questions I wish my Husband had been willing to answer but he would not talk at all about what he was going through. That made it difficult for me.
Also answer this...Would you want to know? Would you want to participate in making decisions that will become difficult later.
And a final comment. See an Elder Care Attorney get all the papers in order now while he can still make decisions. Expensive, yes but may save you in the long run.
And one last comment for you. Find a good support group and start attending meetings. I decided early on that one of the worst days I was having at that time will be equal to one of the better days I will have in a year. It is all perspective.
Helpful Answer (10)

I don't believe it is necessary to tell someone they have "dementia". Telling them they have memory loss occasionally is much more gentle. For some reason the word "dementia" sounds as though you are telling them they are crazy!!
Helpful Answer (7)

My mom and I have always been very close. At the beginning of this long road she made me promise to always be truthful with her, even if it is hard. I have tried to honor that promise. Do I fudge a little when she has a particularly confused moment and asks me where my dad is or do I tell her he is dead? If it is something that is going to hurt her deeply (again) I take the kinder approach because I see no reason to hurt her over and over and over. Usually if she gets frustrated with herself and says she is dumb I tell her no, she has a memory problem and it isn't her fault. It has nothing to do with her intelligence and we talk about how it doesn't help to get frustrated about it. My heart hurts for her though, because she knows what is happening and she knows what the eventual outcome will be. I'm very lucky in that she is still very high functioning and most of the time she is still my mom, but sometimes I get glimpses of where we are going and it hurts so much I don't think I can stand it....and then I take a deep breath and keep moving a step at a time. This is the hardest thing I've ever done, but I also feel very blessed that I can be here for her. Dementia or "memory problem" either way, we are in this together.
Helpful Answer (5)

You owe it to him to tell the truth. Somedays he will understand and somedays not. However, you might be surprised as to how much he understands. My father knew from early on, and on more that one occasion he would comment on his poor memory.
Helpful Answer (4)

I think the question is "How"to tell him, not If. I would gently tell him that he has dementia, something that comes with aging, and that is why his memory is fuzzy. I would not make a huge deal over it -- since, one, you can't do anything about it, and two, it will only make him feel worse. I would be matter of fact, but gentle.
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Please know that every person is different as to the acceptance or denial of memory loss. If your loved one is aware he has a memory problem, I cannot see any reason not to explain to him why in very light-hearted, gentle, understandable terms. Plus, he would probably feel more comfortable hearing an explanation from you than a stranger.
My husband has suffered 11 years with Alzheimer's and, as of last year, is in a nursing/personal care home facility. He has extreme changes in memory one day greeting me as his wife, however, 90 percent of the time he will ask me why he is there, who am I, do I live around the area, why do I come to visit him, if I have any family, etc. To explain to him in the most plain, heartfelt terms his condition and the role I play in his life would mean nothing to him. If anything, he would get upset and deny he is anything but a normal, intelligent person. Every individual is different. They are understandably very frightened when dementia occurs. They are losing control, independence, suffer confusion, their world is not, nor ever will be, the same. Joannona, I would attempt to answer your loved one in a brief matter-of-fact way, but do not dwell on the subject. You know him better than anyone---but please let him know he is not alone; many people forget and have memory problems. It's up to you how the subject is approached and how you feel your spouse will accept what he hears. Your question sounds as if you are just beginning the journey as a caregiver in the world of dementia. Please remember, you are not alone, be good to yourself and embrace each day. There will come a time when hard, difficult decisions will occur. Find strength in everything you do, be proud of your accomplishments, reach out and permit others to help, love and cherish more than you have ever done before.
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My LO was told with me present by her neurologist. He said he didn't know what was causing it. Further tests were needed. Afterwards, she was sad and said that she just hated that she would forget her parents, since they were such good people. I told her that she wouldn't. (Even with severe dementia now, she still seems to remember them.)

I cushioned it by comforting her that we were going to help her memory loss with proper nutrition and care. That made her feel better. Of course, she soon forgot all about her diagnosis and most all other things about her life.
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