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My mom (95) and her sister (my aunt; 93) have always been very close, but both have dementia now and live far from each other. My aunt had a stroke over the weekend and is now on hospice; she isn't speaking but evidently has been holding on to a picture of my mom. Should I tell my mom about my aunt's stroke and poor health? Or should I wait until my aunt passes to break the bad news? My mom is still fairly lucid. It's heartbreaking-- they've been best friends their whole lives.

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Losingitinmo my mom lost her brother last November. He was 97 and in good health til the end. Mom 92 has dementia. My 21 year old son called me from college to give me this advice. Tell her once, take her to the funeral, and never mention it again. I have stuck by this. If she talks about him, I act as if he's still alive.
Since your aunt is holding a picture, she may be waiting for your mom to say goodbye . Why not video your mom with your phone, tell her to say hi and love you, see you soon. Send it to your cousin to play for your aunt. God bless, hope this helps.
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I'm so sorry to hear this; such a sad time for you and your family.

I would tell my mom about her sister now even though they've both got dementia, and even though either/both may forget later. My belief is our loved ones can still hear us, so I'd do my best to arrange with hospice workers for your aunt to use a telephone to at least hear your mom speak to her to say a few comforting words .. she loves her and any sweet, comforting things. Tell mom her sister can't speak, but she should be able to hear her.  It may comfort both of them. 

Mom may need help with the phone on her end, too, like reminding her that her sister can't speak but can hear her, say nice things for her sister to hear. 

Sending prayers your family's way.   

lil
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Thank you for your reply.. We were going to try this today, but my aunt was sleeping while my cousin was there with her. I told my mom that her sister wasn't doing well; I asked her if there was anything she wanted my cousin to write on a white board for her to see when she woke. Talking might be hard at this point -- they're both pretty deaf -- but we're doing what we can.
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My cousin called when my mom’s brother was going to die. The hospice nurse knew he was getting close.

My cousin asked me if mom wanted to say goodbye over the phone. He lived several states away but spoke on the phone every week. They were close growing up and they did make trips to see each other when they were younger.

She was 93. He was 96. So, I asked mom if she wanted to say goodbye. She did. My uncle smiled and he died shortly afterwards. Mom was glad that she had the chance to say that she loved him one last time. I was glad that my cousin gave them the opportunity to say goodbye.

Neither had dementia so it’s different than your situation. I think you have to follow your heart.
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I would deffiently tell your mom that her sister isn't feeling well and isn't able to talk right now but is missing her and would like for her to give her a call and just talk to her.
Even tho your mom's sister is no longer talking, she can still hear and it would do wonders. Prayers
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Everybody handles this situation differently, but I would always shield my mother from bad news like this. It is too painful and in her state of mind I didn't know how she would react her or how she might deal with it..
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I would wait. Otherwise she and you are going to go through this multiple times. Since her sister is in such bad condition, it does not seem like the call would be a positive thing for either of them.

When she passes, then tell your mom.
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Thanks so much for your reply. I too would have been happy just to wait, but my brother thinks it's better to give my mom a chance to prepare and say goodbye. Hard either way, really. I told Mom today that her sister wasn't doing well, but didn't give specifics.
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I would try to get a facetime call between them so they can say goodbye.

If your mom is lucid she should be told, that way it isn't so sudden and she can prepare her heart a bit for the loss.

I am so sorry that your family is facing this challenge. May God grant your aunt a peaceful passing and all of you grieving mercies and comfort during this time.
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Thanks for your answer -- I think Facetime might be a bit beyond what we can manage (on both ends) but we'll try to do a phone call tomorrow. Not sure how well it will go, but worth a try. Thank you for your kind thoughts.
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I got the message a few years ago that my mother's best friend passed. She moved to be with family. I was really upset and hesitated to give the news. When I finally told my mother about her friend I broke down crying and she was ok to my surprise. She accepted that her friend planned her end of life.

This is a sad time but your mother and her sister have had full lives. Both in their 90s and best friends and sisters is a miracle.
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Thanks for your reply. Yes, it is amazing -- both in their 90s and, until very recently, both in excellent health. My mom was still driving and living independently a year ago! But both have taken serious turns for the worse this year, almost in parallel. Sad of course, but as you say, they've had full, mostly happy lives.
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Your brother is right in my opinion. I would never have dreamed of not telling my mom at 96. When her sister at 93 was moved to hospice, my uncle 94, called to tell my mother and they talked several times. They were always close. No one had dementia so it was different perhaps than your situation.
My mother didn’t go to her sisters funeral. She really wasn’t physically able to go and it was a long trip. I know she missed her. 90 years is a long time to be friends. 90 years is a long time for anything. Not many of us travel through life with anyone that many years. I think it’s beautiful your aunt wants your mom’s photo. There was a segment on the news recently about an old guy in s NH who was given a pillow with his late wife’s image. He had been sleeping with her framed photo.
Your mom will be sad but the beauty of dementia is that it does seem to take a bit of the edge off of the realities of life.
My mom outlived all her siblings but a much younger brother. She outlived my dad and two sons and a grandchild. That’s a lot of grieving. In their 90s they know about death. Their hearts have been there before.
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jacobsonbob May 2020
"a pillow with his late wife’s image"--what a FABULOUS IDEA!! (Heck, I might even consider getting one made of my girlfriend who lives 3 states away...)
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My Mother was 97 when she passed away. Her younger sister lived in another state. I knew my Mother was ready to go and didn't understand what was going on with her. Everyone had come to see her, but her sister was also in her middle 90's. It hit me that maybe she was hanging on to say goodbye to her sister. I told her on Sunday that her sister wasn't going to be able to make the trip to see her. She said...'Oh Really?' and my Mother passed away the next day. Sometimes without saying, they really are waiting for a special goodbye.
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