I believe that those in the early stages of Dementia should learn as much as they can about their disease, while they are still able to understand. Knowing what is happening to them, their memories, their behaviors, their emotions, may help them cope better with their disease. Right?
When Bob was first diagnosed we poured over books, articles and websites together, hoping to get a better understanding of what we were facing.
But I learned this past weekend that there comes a time,( even when you do not think that time has come,) to quit giving information.
We have a friend who also has Alzheimer's and seems to declining rapidly. We walked up the road to visit him and his sister again. I worried about Bob seeing Jim in worse condition, knowing that was where he was ultimately headed himself.
As we were walking back home Bob said " Jim is really bad, huh?” Trying to be understanding and help my husband, I asked him if it bothered him to see Jim like that. I was ready to soothe his worries and make up a story about how not everyone with Alzheimers fails in that manner, and many stay at certain stages for a very long time. He seemed surprised that I would ask. No, he said he wasn’t bothered- just sad that Jim was “so out of it”, and it was really too bad because he was such a nice guy.
I realized Bob was completely clueless. He did not seem to realize or remember that his future is the same as Jim’s. Or at least similar to Jim's. Although I tried to keep my face expressionless, I guess I did not succeed, because suddenly, the realization dawned on him, and he asked “I’m not going to be like Jim am I?” That is when I knew that in this case– “ignorance is bliss”. There was absolutely no need for him to know. Why upset him? He had obviously forgotten what he had known about the progression of the disease, and will forget it again. I told him what I had planned to say in the first place – that not everyone ended up like Jim, and we were certainly going to try to keep him as stable as he is now. He was satisfied and within minutes, completely forgot the conversation. Sometimes “ignorance IS bliss”.