Talking to family and friends about mum’s dementia


First off – it’s terribly important to have friends and family members to offload on when facing Alzheimer’s. I am incredibly fortunate to have a sister who lives nearby and shares the burden along with my wonderful dad and I have lots of very supportive friends around who ask – “How’s your mum getting on?” It’s always a difficult question because what they really want to hear (and what you’d love to be able to tell them) is that “actually mum’s doing pretty well, in fact she seems to be improving”. The truth is that this phrase is never going to come out of your mouth unless you are a) a liar b) severely deluded or c) your mum doesn’t actually have Alzheimer’s disease. The truth is often unremittingly bleak and even the best friend in the world doesn’t need a blow-by-blow account of how difficult it is to get your mother dressed in the morning so I have a few stock answers for just such a scenario:

“It’s OK. We’re managing. Thank you for your concern.”

“It’s pretty tough but we’re getting on with things.”

“She had her first appointment with the dementia nurse today.”

“The home carer seems really nice.”

“She’s not incontinent yet.”

Only with a couple of shandies on board and in the presence of a very dear and close friend can you say the following:

“It’s totally fxxxing awful. I feel like I’m being slowly and tortuously bereaved over an extended period and the person who was my mother has now disappeared, only to be replaced by a total stranger who can’t clean her teeth.”

One thought on “Talking to family and friends about mum’s dementia

  1. What a wonderful, heartfelt and beautifully written account of what you and your family are going through. It should serve as an invaluable support to others experiencing the same thing, but also shows the legacy of your mum through you, as she was – intelligent, witty, loving and fun.


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