Should a person suffering from Alzheimer's be told he/she has the disease?

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...OR, just be silent about it??

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It depends. If someone has dementia and is in denial about it, is having reasoning and memory problems it serves no purpose to try and convince them anything is wrong.

With my dad the best I can do is gently remind him that he's getting a little forgetful. He will accept that but would go nuts if I tried to explain he has moderate dementia.  For us, it's just not worth the battle.
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Yes, absolutely, it allows the person to make plans for their future, just as they would if they were diagnosed with any other life limiting condition. There was a local man who became a vocal spokesperson and fundraiser for the Alz Society and was able to participate in an annual walk for donations for years after his diagnosis. The exception would be if the diagnosis is not made until the disease is more advanced, because by then they really aren't in a position to understand.
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The afflicted "know" something isn't right. Upon finding out about their dementia, they can accept it or reject it. If accepting the diagnosis, they can make plans with family and friends and plot their course. If rejecting the diagnosis, play along and keep them as happy as possible, while explaining to them that they should sign you on to bank accounts and power of attorney "just in case" IF something happened later. You can't force someone to accept a diagnosis they don't want.
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Yes, I believe someone should be told if they have Alzheimer's. Primarily because it's their body and mind and they have a right to know. Not being told is the same as being lied to.
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My mother also feared getting dementia but her fear was she would be 'comitted' in a memory care facility. Even at stage 5 Alzheimer's she'd say, "You're never putting me in one of 'those' places!" The reality was that, at 92, she HAD to go into a memory care facility due to the confusion for her own safety. I had to trick her to get her there. She was irate in the beginning but has grown to accept it. For many of us there is no other choice.

I think they remember what 'nursing homes' used to be like... dark, smelly places filled with 'crazy' old people. Maybe they visited their own grandparents there. They remained scared about institutions ever since. Unfortunately, they have not been updated on how they are now... bright, cheerful places with activities, games, classes, music, good food, lovely surroundings, etc.

I hope I can accept my own failing mental and physical health and not resist the inevitable. My dad realized what had to be done as he declined (he lived in a board and care) and went along with the program. It made his last years so much more enjoyable knowing he was being taken care of and took a great load off my mind too. It's too bad that we have to have this disease at all.
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Sue, your story reminds me of one told to me by my cousin. She went to visit her aunt (from the other side of the family) in the nursing home and asked her how she liked living there. Auntie was full of praise for the place, and then confided "I'm so glad they didn't put me in __________", which was the name of the NH she lived in. LOL.
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There is no set answer to this question. In my case I am the POA of a friend who wasn't diagnosed until he was 88. (2 years after he retired). He never questioned his memory loss or any of his other symptoms. They just became a part of his life. Thus I felt no need to tell him he has dementia. I wouldn't lie if he asked but why burst his bubble if he is happy.
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I tell my mom she has dementia not Alzheimer's because her dr.has told me directly that she doesn't know if my mom has Alzheimer's. I guess I'm splitting hairs, but she forgets anyway. I wish I knew if she had Alzheimer's versus dementia. I know Alzheimer's is one of up to 50 different types of dementia , but I would feel more knowledgeable , and better able to plan the future if I had a more definable diagnosis.
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Yes, the person should be told. If still pretty cognitive, they have to be able to set up POAs, wills, NRA and get finances in order. I didn't like doing Moms bills when she was still living home but by doing them I found where all the stuff I'd eventually need was. Made things so much easier.
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My Dad was an intelligent, take-charge person. When he started having trouble, he suspected that he might be starting down the path of dementia. He and my mother already had moved to an independent-living cottage in a CCRC. They went to their trusted PCP and asked her to check both of them regarding their mental status. She continued to monitor them; only my Dad was declining mentally. He called it "memory loss." Mom and Dad continued participating in social activities as long as my Dad was able. They went to concerts and plays with another couple; my Mom worried that my Dad would get lost when they went to the restrooms during intermissions. They went to church and out to breakfast afterward. Eventually, my Dad was unable to get himself dressed for church, and my Mom would end up going by herself. He started having trouble handling personal finances (taxes, investments). He engaged an accountant to do their taxes. My brother found an investment advisor. I helped them move their assets under management with that firm, and we arranged for a monthly amount to be moved to their checking account to cover their expenses. My sister suggested that Mom and Dad join an Alzheimer's support group. My Dad would have none of it. He insisted he had only "memory loss." My Dad began having outbursts of temper which scared my Mom. I know Dad must have been very scared about what was happening to him. He started going out for walks, even in the dark, and this worried her. When my Mom went out on an errand, to the hairdresser, or to the pool for exercise, my Dad did not like being left alone. He started forgetting where she had gone and when she would return. Their social life came to an end. Eventually, my sister contacted Senior Helpers so that a caregiver could come in whenever my Mom went somewhere. The first time was in May 2012, when I took her overnight to a bridal shower for my daughter-in-law. In July of that year, I took my Mom to the wedding (2 nights away); Dad was not well enough to attend the wedding of his first grandchild. Dad did not like having caregivers coming into his home. We called them "housekeepers." Soon, Senior Helpers sent a male caregiver, and Dad accepted him. They had good conversations on some level. Dad's intelligence and verbal ability were still there. Mom was bearing a heavy load, caring for Dad entirely alone. They were both 85 years old. She was worried that Dad might physically attack her during one of his outbursts. She was small, weak, and had very poor balance. Dad could have knocked her over with a gentle push. She was trapped at home except for quick errands, her own doctor visits, and going to church. My sister and I decided that it was time to talk to Mom about moving Dad to the Memory Care unit at the CCRC. She could visit him daily for as long as she liked. We took her to lunch, and she acquiesced. The move was scheduled for May 2013, and we planned it with the CCRC's social worker. We didn't tell Dad ahead of time. My brother and sister took him out to lunch. Movers took some furniture to his new room. I met them in the hallway. My brother took a big swallow and said, "This is your room now, Dad," and Dad's eyes got as big as saucers. The four of us walked in. We sat down and listened to Dad. "Why is our bed here?" he asked. We explained that he needed more care, so he would be staying here now. "Where's ________?" he asked. We calmly said Mom was at the cottage. "I want to go home," he said. We reminded him that this whole community is his home, and here in Memory Care are nurses who know what he needs and will take good care of him. After a long while, I went out and got two nurses. They came in and asked him to lie on the bed so they could check him. He complied willingly. We three "kids" said goodbye and told him we'd see him soon. Dad died of dementia three months later, in August 2013. Mom lived in her cottage until May 2016; she died in Skilled Nursing in August 2016.
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