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My spouse doesn’t seem to know she has vascular dementia, though she thinks something is wrong. I’m not sure if she was ever told or if she just has forgotten. She has a psychiatrist. Should I ask him to tell her? It might reassure her that she’s not crazy, or it may cause deep depression.

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This is a tough question, and a lot depends on how far along your wife is, and what she thinks is wrong. Would telling her she has vascular dementia help her in some way, or just upset her? Will the outcome be different, or how she reacts to her condition be different? Would it help anything? Or do you just think she “has a right to know?”

My my mom was diagnosed with the beginning of dementia at an evaluation at least 10 years ago. That was the first and last time we ever used the word dementia around her. If issues came up we just said she was forgetful. I don’t want to scare her or take away her hope. Even now she sometimes says she feels stupid because she can’t remeber things, and I just tell her that everybody forgets stuff. What would be the point of telling her it’s the dementia.
I don’t know how the vascular dementia exhibits, but If your wife’s behaviors are worrying her, however, maybe you could try the therapeutic fib?
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When u sat with the doctor she should have been there. Moms neurologist sat right in front of her and told her and what to expect. I would have the doctor tell her. She will believe him before you.
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I don't know if this is something that appeals to you, but I drew my mother pictures. You can probably get some proper ones, actually, if you have a look around on the internet; but I just doodled diagrams to show what bit of her was affected by whatever had gone wrong that week, sigh...

Not to anatomy exam standard or anything, you understand - more like here's your heart, this is in, this is out, this chamber is flabby and horrible, that's why the out isn't working so... here's your brain, etc. etc.

The good thing about doing it this way is you're not sticking a label on her as a person - you're looking at a part of the body, thinking about how it works, and explaining why it isn't working or what has happened to it.

Um. Not to depress YOU instead, but if your wife does go into a deep depression it will be because of the vascular dementia and not because of anything you've said to her. That is something to be on the alert for, I'm sorry; but at least you'll be able to get it addressed early on should you spot it.

Also not to depress you, but no matter how well you explain your wife will not retain all the information and will continue to ask. All you can do is continue to reassure, and continue to explain as much as you judge she wants to know.
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She needs to know what’s going on. It seems like everything is going on behind her back. And meanwhile, , she has no idea what’s happening to her. Even if she doesn’t 100% understand, you and her medical team need to sit down with her and explain. Set up a meeting and incluide her as well. You may have some explaining to do after the meeting, but at least she will be a little more cognizant of what is going on.
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Hi Jane,
This is such a painful diagnosis for you and your spouse. I am sorry for the pain. May I ask why you need to tell her specifically the diagnosis? You say that she knows something is wrong. Is it upsetting her not to have a diagnosis?
I guess a lot depends on the severity of her condition as to whether she will be able to remember "vascular dementia" as the cause of her troubles.

Another approach could be to address whatever concerns her at the moment. Instead of giving her a broad diagnosis when she realizes she cannot remember simple things (for instance) you could say that it is a part of the problem that she has been seeing the doctor for. If you think dementia is a word that would cause her to be depressed, you can refer to the "vascular " problem she has.
But really, sometimes straightforward and honest is the best approach.
She may become sad with the diagnosis and explanation. But that is her right. It is happening to her and she has a right to react in whatever way she needs to.
Knowledge is power-and giving her the knowledge is in a way showing her the respect I am sure you feel she deserves. Of course, it can be done on a "good day" with all the love and support that you can bring together for the both of you.

Best of luck,
Margaret
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Was she evaluated by a doctor and then diagnosed with dementia? Where was she when you met with the doctor after the diagnoses? If she was there and she was told she has it, she’s either forgotten or is in denial. Either way, make an appointment with her psychiatrist and write them a note before you go saying she needs to talk this over.
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Jane7448 Oct 28, 2018
Yes, she was examined by a geriatric psychiatrist. she was in the psychiatric hospital when diagnosed, about 1 1/2 yrs ago. She was not in the room when the psychiatrist talked to me for 1 1/2 hours about her diagnosis, what to expect, etc. I don’t think that I asked if they had told her. That psychiatrist was not her regular one.
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Perhaps you could ask her what she thinks is wrong. If she tells you what she thinks, or dreads, or hopes, you might get a better idea about how she will react to the actual diagnosis. If you don't want to say it then, you can always say that you want to check a couple of things that aren't clear to you, and will talk to her again when you have done that.
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Jane7448 Oct 28, 2018
Thank you for your ideas!
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