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I’ve told her directly that she has dementia. Her doctor said that to her in her last visit., when her license was revoked. I don’t see how lying to a person will accomplish anything. It’s their life. She doesn’t remember yesterday what alone the dr said .
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Reply to Erinm60

Moe, agreed. Don't tell them, leave it alone. Just offer heal and assistance when needed. Telling them may only cause a very depressing obsession.
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Reply to gladimhere

WHY? WHAT WILL IT ACCOMPLISH? - I chose not to tell my mom she had dementia because it would only upset her or set her off on a denial loop where she would know better than the drs - instead when she asked why she was living at the NH, I would answer it was until her hand [bad arthritis etc] was better so that she could take care of herself easier then I would pass her 1 of the small squeeze balls & start her on a hand exercise but she could only remember for such a short time that she would stop on her own after 4 or 5 squeezes

So I repeat why are you insisting telling them they have dementia - it will not do anything positive for them or you rather they will be upset & then forget why they are upset - unless they are in a very early stage where they can still pick how they want things long term or establish a POA then it is an exercise in futility
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Reply to moecam

There really would be no way to discuss the dementia with our mother. In the earlier stages, she would just get angry and deny deny deny! Any attempts to bring in help were thwarted - she is fine, independent, can take care of herself and can cook!! Delusional - only in the sense that her self-assessment was off and she really could not do some things (still self-caring, aka walks, dresses, bathes, feeds herself, etc, even now except for recent leg pain interference.)

After we moved her to MC (refused to let home care in), she gained weight and I had to get larger clothes. Instead of assessing the clothes, she looks at the size and repeats that she is not a L, usually wears M... not any more mom! But in her mind she is. Her self-image is many years behind her actual age and condition.

Her short term memory was the biggest sign (and a big reason trying to discuss her "condition" or engage in discussing how her parents are long gone - this would be painful over and over again and would also be pointless.) She also had issues with some reasoning (finances, which I took over while she was still living alone, cooking - cannot follow a recipe, etc.) and began self-isolating (refusal to join other neighbors for senior center activities, which were a big thing for her!)

So, we never really discussed her "issue". She would, early on, admit to forgetting things, but follow that up with being "old and entitled to forget some things!" Taking the car away was painful - she would insist she "doesn't go far", which was true, but still dangerous, and then was angry about it for many months. Later she would say the worst thing she did was "give up her wheels!" Give up? No. Taken away, yes. But, once she thought that way, it took away the anger and resentment!

As others have said, relationship and cognitive ability would be key in how to address what this person has and where this will lead. If not able to retain information, focus on other things and stay away from what's going on. Change the subject, engage in other activity or discussions. In mom's case, the first step back in time occurred about 9-10 months after moving to MC, when she started asking about her mother and wanting to go to see her (that was just over a year ago, and her mother has been gone about 40 years!) More recently she mentions her mother AND her father (died when I was 10 and mom is 95!) In asking her to do some Christmas cards this year for family members, she asked who my older brother's wife was (he's married? that would be nice to know!) and younger brother's daughters, who she doted on for a long time (lived closer, he is 10 years younger than me and his kids are almost 20 years younger than mine!), she had no clue who they were. When I said they were his kids, same result - he has kids? that would be nice to know!

So, again, the determination on what and how much/how often to discuss this with the "patient" is really based on where the person is in the progression. Early enough, it can be discussed and plans made for POAs, etc. If the person cannot retain short term memory and/or has too much difficulty making decisions, then what is the point in discussing it? Just make the person's life safe and pleasant and enjoy what you can while you can.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
Oskigirl Dec 27, 2018
Wow. That is 90% the same story as my mother. At Christmas she told me niece that it was "nice to meet her friend." He is her fiancee whom she has met before multiple times. Yet my mom claims she has no issues...
It depends on what stage of comprehension he has. If this is early and he knows what is going on then it is easier to discuss. Later stages where there is little or no comprehension then that makes discussing any diagnosis difficult if not impossible.
My Husband never talked about it, never wanted to talk about it. I think now that was because language was the first thing that began to fail him.
so it all depends on what kind of person you are dealing with and the comprehension level they have.
Keep the discussion going, if there is a response go with that, if he gets upset or angry drop it. If there is an actual conversation that comes of it go with that. It is a conversation that may have to be repeated. But at some point the discussion will become useless and will just frustrate the both of you. You trying to explain something that he has no comprehension or retention of.
This disease process is frustrating enough with out trying to get someone to understand an idea or concept that they can not grasp, or will loose soon after.
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Reply to Grandma1954

You have some good, important advice here. In terms of the emotional side of it, I have always found what works with mom is to be honest, but supportive. When she was in the early stages I did a lot of research so I would know what to expect and have answers for her. Over the few years since her diagnosis we have talked about what makes her “disease,” as we call it, worse (being sick, having a migraine, shorter days), and we have acknowledged the fact that it will get worse, not better over time. But with each of these kinds of discussions I have assured her that she will not be alone, that dad will help her (they are together in assisted living), that I am only a phone call away, and that I will always make sure she has loving care. Since there are “good” days and really bad days, when she is in the midst of one of the bad days we talk about how tomorrow might be a better day, and when she is upset about being confused or forgetful I remind her it is not a failure on her part but rather her “disease.” So far all of this seems to be of comfort for her. One thing for you to know is that there is no single right way to handle this journey. What comforts one person, could be upsetting for another. So try not to panic if your first strategy does not produce the results you are seeking. Try to keep your expectations low and be as flexible as you possibly can. Wishing you strength and wisdom for the journey ahead.
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Reply to MelissaPA2AZ

I agree, it depends on how far along they are. The best time is when the person can still make decisions. Assigning a POA. Getting finances in order. Prepaying funeral and making sure its the way they want. I also think it should be done by the diagnosing Doctor. He/she needs to sit down in front of the person, look them in the eye and tell them. Then tell them what to expect. Moms Dr did this. Then theres no, you don't know what you are talking about, when you say the same thing. Much better coming from the professional.

Even though the doctor told Mom, she complained about her memory. I told her it was the Dementia. After that one time, I would just say its the problem you have.

It all depends on the stage the person is in. Early on Mom lost her reasoning and the ability to process. Comprehension and short term memory is another thing. You can tell them but will they remember. And if they don't remember, explaining over and over won't help.
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Reply to JoAnn29

It depends. Is this person someone close to you? Would it be appropriate for you to discuss this person's health with them? Talking to parent is much different than discussing health with a patient or a neighbor. So who is this person to you?

It also depends upon how far advanced the illness is. Most people with Alzheimer's lose the ability to self-reflect pretty early on. They also lose the ability to look at things critically and make judgements or decisions. Is this person capable of having a true give-and-take conversation about their dementia?

It may not be possible to talk to this person about their Alzheimer's but if you'd like to try, pick a time when they are at their most alert. Try not to overestimate their ability to discuss it. Don't push. And know that if you're not getting anywhere it's not because you're not doing something right, it's because of the illness.

There's nothing wrong with talking with someone who has Alzheimer's about their Alzheimer's but there can be invisible land mines. If you trip one, get out and try another day. If, after several failed attempts, you're not getting what you want then the person probably isn't able to have a conversations like that.
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Reply to Eyerishlass

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