My mother is 93 years old and told my sister that she was going crazy, that she can't explain things, she can't remember things. My sister told her she had dementia, that's why she couldn't remember things, but we, her children, were going to take care of her. Is it wrong to tell here she has dementia?
Yes Sibling5 it is the most hard thing I have done, watching someone who became my friend losing parts of her self bit by bit..
"You have a memory problem."
Not tremendously helpful.
If you don't like the word "dementia" - personally, I blame J K Rowling - then by all means put it a different, gentler way. It doesn't have to be a label, as such. You could explain that there are protein plaques causing her to have difficulties with thinking and memory, or that the blood supply to her brain needs to be improved, or whatever. But if she's asking you to explain, then explain. Telling her she has a memory problem doesn't explain anything.
One other time I told him his diagnosis. I needed him to understand that he couldn't drive, and a mean part of me wanted to win an argument. He remembered it for about 18 hours. After forgetting, he was still angry and sad for three more days. Then he forgot completely, and cheered up.
So I won't ever tell him again. I call it memory problems, and he accepts that. He realizes that it's true. Then the next day he will talk about going back to work as a software engineer. Sigh. A lot of my conversation consists of saying, "Uh huh." Agree with everything you can, true or false. That's hard for me, but I'm getting better at it.
For people to whom "dementia" is too alarming, calling it a "memory disorder" may be better. Mom, you are certainly not going crazy! You just have a memory disorder. The doctor is aware of it, and we are all working to help you and keep you safe etc. etc.
If someone doesn't ask and in fact doesn't seem to know anything is wrong, then an explanation may serve no purpose.
I think the issue is that no matter what you say, it's going to be forgotten, then you have to repeat it, so it may distress the person to give them this news over and over. I don't see the need to do that, so I would try to put a less negative spin on it.
I think it's important to have full knowledge if you are still at the stage to process it, make plans for your care, sign Power of Attorney, Wills, etc., but if those things are done and you aren't functioning well, I'm not sure I see how it helps the patient.