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For someone who has spent her entire life learning and teaching, it is quite out of character for me to write a blog supporting withholding knowledge. Besides arming ourselves, the caregivers, with as much information and education as possible about Alzheimer’s Disease and its impact on spouses, I also believe that those in the early stages of AD/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. But I learned this weekend that there comes a time, even when you do not think that time has come, to cease giving information to your AD spouse.

We have a friend who has rapidly declined into a much later stage of Alzheimer’s Disease than any of the other husbands in our group. There is no need to list all of his disabilities, except to say that he is racing his way through Stage 6, including loss of ADL’s and most awareness. I was becoming concerned about how being around him would affect Sid. I thought that it might depress and upset him to see someone in that condition, knowing that was where he was ultimately headed.

When we returned home from our outing with our friends on Saturday, including the man in the later stage, Sid said that our friend was “really bad, huh?” Trying to be compassionate and help my husband, I asked if it depressed him to see Bob like that. I was ready to soothe his worries and make up a story about how not everyone with AD fails in that manner. He seemed surprised that I would ask. No, he said he wasn’t depressed, just sad that Bob was “so out of it”, and it was really too bad because he was such a nice guy.

I was stunned when I realized Sid was completely clueless. He did not seem to realize or remember that his future is the same as Bob’s, and those in his support group who have declined so much that they now attend Day Care instead of our support group. Although I tried to keep my face expressionless, I guess I did not succeed, because suddenly, the realization dawned on him, and he asked incredulously, “I’m not going to be like Bob 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 Bob, and we were certainly going to try to keep him as stable as he is now. He was satisfied, went back to watching TV, and within minutes, completely forgot the conversation. Sometimes “ignorance IS bliss”.

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©Copyright 2010 Joan Gershman 
The Alzheimer Spouse LLC
2010 All Rights Reserved                  





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The Alzheimer Spouse LLC 2009 All Rights Reserved          












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