Being Truthful with an Alzheimer’s Patient

Posted by: The Bristal

How truthful should you be?

Dear Maryellen,

How truthful should we be with someone who has dementia or any form of Alzheimer’s Disease? – Uyla

Dear Uyla,

Changes in memory are part of the aging process. It is when it interferes with the day-to-day tasks that it becomes a cause for concern. Seeing the doctor for a checkup and following his advice for testing will help determine how to proceed.

As we age, we are all too familiar with the fact that we become forgetful. I don’t see any reason to share the words Dementia or Alzheimer’s with your loved one. They are probably the two words that all seniors fear the most. I will share a conversation I had with my mother when she started to realize she was becoming more forgetful.

My mother would say to me “Oh, I must have Alzheimer’s. I keep losing my hearing aid and keys.” We would joke about how that was nothing new since she was always losing her keys for as long as I could remember. We discussed seeing the doctor and perhaps asking him about some of the new medications that have come out to help with short-term memory loss. The doctor did prescribe something which she took every day. After a few weeks I asked her if she thought the medication was helping and her response was, “No, I don’t think so. I keep forgetting to take it.”

My Mom was aging, knew she had a problem but maintained that sense of humor she always had. I was lucky. She realized the problem and the solution was easy. I would call her every morning and make sure, while she was talking with me, that she took her medication. I never used any term other than forgetfulness, however we did have a conversation about change; perhaps it was time she thought about coming to live with one of us or trying Assisted Living.

I hope this helps.


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