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I'm about a month into the caregiving role for my grandma-in-law. Her caregiver before me was her son Gary, who was very verbally abusive. He's been in hospice the past couple weeks, but he passed away two days ago. My mother-in-law came over yesterday to tell her Gary died. She was upset of course, no Mother should have to bury her son. This morning she asked me if I heard from Gary. I said no Mammy, he died a couple days ago. I reassure her that she's not alone and that me and her favorite grandson live with her now. She of course was upset again, as if it was the first time she was told this. Is she better off not being told that her son died every d*mn day? Of course she needs to know, and we tell her, but her dementia just doesn't allow her to retain it. Every morning is like a brand new day. My husband and I plan on clearing out Gary's room, repainting it, and making it an art room. Maybe that will be the big tell-all. It breaks my heart to tell her that her son has died everyday. I could use any advice you guys have! Thanks!

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Stephanitely86, I see from your profile that your G-Mom-in-law has Alzheimer's/Dementia, thus she isn't going to remember from one day to the next.

So the next time she asks where is Gary, just make up an excuse that he is busy, out-of-town, etc. Otherwise, G-Mom-in-law will grieve everyday as though it was the first time she heard the news.
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We lost our brother a month ago and never told Mom. No reason for her to be told, as she wouldn't retain it but only grieve. It is very hard to not share our own grief, but then it makes it about us & not her. Living our her remaining years safe, happy, and as content as possible is what we are trying to do.
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Do NOT keep repeating facts about any death.
For a person with any type of dementia every time you tell them about a death it is like they are learning about it for the first time. Imagine having a loved one die everyday.
When she asks about Gary tell her..
He can not come see you today.
He went out for a while
He had a Doctor appointment
He went to the store
He took the car in for service
He is in the bathroom
Any number of things will work.
Once you tell her that Gary is not available right now ask what you can do, change the subject, ask her a question, anything that will deflect the subject from Gary onto something else.
This goes for any other sad, traumatic or disturbing event. Depending on how severe the dementia is I probably would not inform her of another death if something like that happens. It does no good to put her through that even once if she is not going to remember.
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Stop telling her.
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Stephanitely, as everyone told you on the other threads - GIL has dementia. Her brain is broken. It can't retain new info properly any more. You can tell her over and over. It won't stick. Your MIL can tell her over and over if she wants. I personally would just say that I was sure he was busy "taking care of stuff" and move on. If you are dealing with the fallout telling GIL, it seems cruel to me. And you don't seem like you enjoy telling her over and over on the bad news. Take care.
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Steph, you are right. Stop telling GIL! Tell MIL to stop. Nobody wants GIL grieving each day as if the death is new info.

My mom at age 86 with moderate dementia did not remember the deaths of her parents. Each time she asked and someone told her the deaths were 15 and 50 years ago she would start the grief process all over again. She also became angry that nobody had told her. These times were very difficult for all.

I suggest getting two copies of the 36-Hour Day. One for MIL and one for you and read them. Discuss what you both have read with MIL. Find a caregiver support group. Read this site.

I hope this situation works out for you, and that you and hubby have regular time away together. Care situations like this are very hard on marriages and you both as individuals.
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There are ways and ways.

Clearly it is now firmly in GMIL's mind that there is something afoot to do with Gary. But she cannot retain what that something is.

She has a right to know. It is not wrong to tell her. But she doesn't need to comprehend it all now, this minute, and you don't have to rub her nose in it.

When GMIL asks if you have heard from Gary, you could ask her what made her think of him. Turn it into a conversation about Gary, and encourage her to talk about him if she wants to. If it becomes worrying or distressing for her, try distraction - say you'll ask your MIL next time you speak to her, but it's time for lunch/supper/her favourite TV programme just now. Essentially, the key thing is to let Millie lead the conversation. She may eventually process what has happened, or she may never. Focus on her right to be told the truth about her son and deliver it as gently as you can: your concern is Millie's welfare, not Gary's dues or MIL's frustration.

Is your MIL - this is Gary's sister, is it? - worrying about what to do about Gary's funeral?

Go easy on MIL too, and if you have to disagree with her about what to tell GMIL do it sympathetically. It's bad enough to lose your brother without the added grief of your mother being unable to understand it.
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It's simply not able to "stick", Stephanitely86. There is no way for this lady's brain to hold this sad information no matter what MIL says, thinks, believes.
Take the advice of so many experienced carers and talk around the subject. And as someone else mentioned, I, too, believe it is cruel to keep telling sad news to someone living with dementia.
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Doesn't matter what she remembers or believes. Just be agreeable and kind. It's a good lesson for us younger people who get so wrapped up in "identity " and accomplishments ans ego- a dementia patient can be (aand is) whoever they want to be and their personal history often changes or isn't known. It has its plusses and minuses -
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I appreciate everyone's responses and experiences! It's been a number of days and the information has actually stuck with her. It was slow to start but she has obtained the information and tells me about how she's feeling everyday. Mammy and I have grown a special bond and I truly care for my husband's grandma as if she were my own. Because we're in the early stages of dementia I suppose it wasn't as difficult as we'd all imagined it to be, but she says "life is cruel sometimes but it's best when we don't have to suffer." She's processed it, gotten through funeral services, and even assisted me in the process of clearing out his bedroom. I plan to make it a painting room, a hobby both Mammy and I love. It hasn't been easy getting through this tragic time in her life, but we're getting through it together. Thanks
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