Should the patient be told that he/she has Alzheimer's? - AgingCare.com

Should the patient be told that he/she has Alzheimer's?

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My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's early this year. When I told her she wouldn't believe and began worrying even more which I believe is not good for dementia patients. So I told her the diagnosis is still not confirmed. She is kind of balanced thereafter. But I know as her disease progresses she will not be able to think enough and while now the disease is in early stages I would like her to take some decisions about her future. Any thoughts how to handle this?

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JessieBelle -- I have that attitude, where if my mother prefers to stay home, watch t.v., whatever it is -- if it's not doing any harm, then I don't fight it. She is 84, has never been outgoing, is not very mobile, doesn't have a lot of stamina, so this is her comfort zone, and that's fine. The comments and suggestions from others can be annoying - "You should GET your mother to try/go/do ______..."
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JessieBelle, I agree with it all! Only bi stay g one as I can't leave her. She has fallen a few times. She won't drink at all if I don't hand her the item. Everything is disintegrating before my eyes and it is tough! Today for her is a bad day, which in turn is my bad day. Must go now, she needs me to help.with her meal.....
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antiqfreq, my mother is becoming the same way. It doesn't surprise me, because she has always wanted to be comfortable, sitting in her pajamas. She watches TV all day. She watches a religious channel in the morning, then Game Show Network and INSP channel in the afternoon. I know the names of all the Waltons now. :) She likes the old sit coms. She thinks the new ones are silly. As silly as the old ones are, she thinks they aren't silly at all. I think it is what Jeanne mentioned. She is familiar with them and the characters, so she understands the plots better. She could watch Andy Griffith or Bill Cosby all day... and often does. Yes, it drives me crazy.

I don't mention the D word to her, because it is upsetting to her. It is okay for her to tell me she is confused or forgetful. But it is not okay for me to tell her.

My mother spends a lot of time alone. I have felt guilty about this in the past, but am learning that she doesn't want me around her very much. She'll do what she can to avoid me -- like waiting until I'm out of the kitchen before getting her meal, so we don't even eat together. I've begun to wonder if the TV characters are her friends that keep her away from the reality of her life at the moment. I'm always saying, "Remember your pills," or "Remember your shot." I must sound like a tired old recording. And if I talk about other things, she never really grasps it. She avoids people in general -- no calls, shuns visits, doesn't want to go anywhere but church. She is probably controlling things to the small area that she feels comfortable.

Yesterday I worked all day while she sat. I mentioned it was sad to see her sitting all day when she could be doing things. I shouldn't have said that, because she avoided me like a plaque the rest of the afternoon/evening. Most likely I had ruffled her comfort zone. Maybe at her age and with her health, I should let her stay in her comfort zone and not mention it anymore.
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Reading all these posts gives me some comfort and Hope I will make it thru another day. Slowly mom is just disappearing in front of me. As her caregiver I see it more than anyone. Our family is all in another state. She sees then once out twice s year. I can't get her out of the house. She rarely goes outside anymore. Does watch old tv shows better than new one. Can't keep up with a movie at all. She now doesn't want to get out of night clothes. It is getting harder each day. My biggest problems are with the personal hygiene. She hates to wash and won't let me without a fight. Thank goodness for this forum and now my girl who comes in one day a week to help with mom.
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Jeanne, your mom sounds like a very sweet, lovely lady! Thank you for the great ideas, btw.
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jlakhani, since she "doesn't understand what's going on in TV" she may do better with DVDs of old shows she liked to watch. My husband could follow those better since they have no disruptive commercials, they contain familiar characters, and he has seen the plot before. Short shows were especially good. He liked Hogan's Heroes and the Sherlock Holmes series and even old black and white Dragnet episodes. Would your mom like I Love Lucy? Lawrence Welk? Try one DVD of an old show and see if she can follow it. My husband also loved nature and travel DVDs. Looking at views of the Grand Canyon doesn't require following a plot. Lots of folks who can't follow a plot still enjoy sports on tv, especially if they followed sports in the past.

My mother did crosswords all her life. Now she can only do easy ones in large print, so we supply those. This isn't a time to start a new activity but a familiar activity with reduced complexity might work. A person who used to do 1000 piece jig saws might now like puzzles with 300 large pieces.

Does she like to look at photo albums? Both my mother and husband loved someone to sit with them when they did this, and both enjoyed it very much.

Social interaction is good, often in small doses. Chatting with a visitor for 15 minutes is usually pleasant and involves a different kind of engagement.

A change of scenery is often good. Folding towels on the patio or porch offers a nice change of view in good weather.

My mother seems to like sorting things. While she was waiting for someone to get her started on a beading project at the NH she happily sorted beads by color. I've given her a small basket of colorful socks that she can pair up and fold, and do it all over again the next day. Some people like sorting coins. I think I'll gather some buttons for Mom to sort.

My mother isn't reading books anymore, but she still enjoys her magazines, especially with lots of pictures. She has a few subscriptions and the NH has lots of them circulating around. She also loves catalogs of novelty items and nick-nacks, etc. Even though she hasn't had a yard for decades, she can laugh at silly lawn ornaments.

When any of her four daughters visit the NH we take Mom for a walk in the neighborhood in her wheelchair. She is interested in seeing gardens growing and noticing a tomato go from small green to large red and then be gone because it was harvested. (We have to point these things out to her, but she gets a kick out of it.)

You need to get into her world and try to figure out what might be interesting there.
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I debated whether to tell my mother-in-law she has Alz. I decided to tell her when she asks me why she can't remember anything anymore (for the hundredth time) that her memory is either 'gunny sack' or in 'the crapper' or 'AWOL'. I know she won't remember what I tell her anyway, so I change it up. ha
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I believe my mother does realize that she's experiencing lapses. However I think she's pretending that everything's fine.
The other issue I now experience is keeping her engaged. She does not focus on any activity. The whole day either she just sits quiet or repeats the same thing over. I have tried all means to keep her mind engaged but she won't. Tried to buy her books she used to enjoy reading. She doesn't understand what's going on in TV. I have no clue how to keep her mind engaged.
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Telling my mother didn't go over well at all, but it was necessary at the time. At first, when she started 'slipping', I'd mention it to a few people who saw her from time to time, to get their take on things. She kept getting worse over the next year, and I sat her down one day and asked if she felt like she was getting more forgetful. She looked puzzled, and said "Not really." I thought that was interesting, because I read that many people do realize something's going on, but to this day, 2 years or so later, she believes that she's fine, and everyone else is trying to 'take her life away.'
Every couple of months over the past year or so, she gets another clue that she's not well. Last summer, her t.v. provider was switched, and the process of turning in her cable boxes, learning the new remote, etc., was so overwhelming for her that I had to take a day off work, drive down, and walk her through it. Last October, we had to pay for a 'cease and desist' letter from an attorney because of an unsound financial move she tried to make. She went to a neurologist for the first time in December 2013, and he prescribed Aricept. In March, 2014, her community library 'fired' her as a volunteer because she wouldn't comply with their rule of not using their stepladder, and she was getting worse and worse with organizing the books. And in June, her drivers license was suspended.
None of these events do anything to convince her that anything is wrong with HER. It's everyone else who's being mean, vindictive, 'stabbing her in the back' as she says.
Anyway, I'd say in our case, she needed to be told in order to get the ball rolling on more medical care for her, and we needed to get more involved in caring for her as well. But emotionally, some people handle it much better than others.
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Cherylk thanks for the info.. The asking about the kids always perplexes me... I have a friend who's Dad wife has LBD and she's always talking about "the kids", watch out don't sit on them, etc.. But the women never had any children...

My mother often asks are the kids are here? Did they sleep over? Will they be eating dinner? My kids are 23 and 26!! And only one lives here.. But Mom has 7 children, 20 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren!
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