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Memory Loss and Death of a Loved One

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Uncle died quietly in his sleep Wednesday/ Thursday. He was a quiet man with a good sense of humor, and always a twinkle in his eyes. I knew his health was not great, but am surprised to find him gone. He will be missed.

My Mom, has vascular dementia. She has been asking to go and visit him and Aunt Muriel. Because she has a fractured pelvis we have told her that we would wait until spring time to visit. Hopefully, pain would be less for her and her walking improved.

So, yesterday we went to visit her and tell her about my uncle's death. We told her simply what had happened. It seems like the right thing to tell her the truth when she has been talking about her brother. Just not sure if it was the best.

My Dad died about 1 1/2 ago. Something, that until a couple of months ago she remembered. Yesterday, she asked where he was. When I told her he died over a year ago due to lung cancer. She replied that she had been wondering where he was but remembered the lung cancer.

So, although it seemed like the right thing to tell her. I wonder if telling someone who can't clearly retain facts is the right thing. Did I just add more grief and confusion to her life? How do you help someone with memory loss deal with death?

If, my Mom had completely regressed to her childhood. I wouldn't have told her. Why have her grieve for someone she doesn't remember? But, she has been talking about my uncle. So hard to know what the right choice is.

Memory is such a funny thing. She knows that my name is Julie. But she doesn't remember that I am her daughter. She thinks that I am her granddaughter and that my children her actually her children. Makes sort of a sense, if you were sleeping and dreaming. I guess it's sort of like having a waking dream.

In her reality, she is too young to have a child my age, but knows that I am a relative. She knows she can call me anytime, and manages to do so although she can't dial the numbers on a phone anymore.

I am rambling so will sign off.
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  • no profile photo CD2475290
    It is a hard thing to know what to do, as so many things are. I'm certainly not an expert and haven't even had to deal with that many situations along that line, but one thing I do know came to mind as I read your blog. Dementia/alzheimers is when you lose your present day memory for periods of time. The periods of time when you are "normal" or remember most of your life, become less and less frequent, until you reach the point where you don't know anyone around you. But if asked about something 50 or 60 years ago, you may remember it. The closer you are to present day time, the more likely you won't remember.

    Yes, it couldn't hurt much one way or the other than you told her. After all, she had brought up his name just recently. But as he is part of her long-ago memory, changes are she will ask again, not remembering his death, just like with her husband.

    It is very difficult to know what best when in a situation like that, and I think it is great that you get to visit her often. Just be patient.
    2684 days ago
  • FRAN0426
    So sorry for the loss of your uncle. I think telling you mother was the right thing to do. She may remember, as well as she may forget what you told her that her brother passed. It would be worse to tell her the news this spring when she may remember that she was to go visit him, if she is able.
    2688 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14569016
    emoticon I understand. My mom had dementia and I too struggled with what things I should tell her. All one can do is follow our instincts and pray that we are doing the right thing. My father died 10 months before she did, and she had moments of clarity when she would say how she missed him, and a few moments later she would ask if he was back from work. It is very difficult and I'm sure you're doing the best you can.
    emoticon emoticon

    I'm so sorry for your loss. emoticon

    2689 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/17/2014 8:38:19 AM
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