How to broach subject of possible dementia?

xminionJanuary 31, 2011

I am concerned about my SIL. She and my DB don't live near me - but we keep in touch. In the past five years I've noticed some cognitive decline in her. She is only 64. However, in her entire life she never excercised or dieted. In fact, she is overweight. She still works as a nurse, but her only hobbies she's ever had are eating and shopping.

What I am saying here, is that she really never took care of herself mentally or physically.

Last year when I saw her, she told me she couldn't remember that I had ever been to her house! Then, she made a comment like "Oh, gosh, my memory!" Last night I called her on the phone and she called me by our cousin's name.

She must have alot of support at work in order to still function at work like she is. I have not discussed these observations with my brother. They do not have any children, nor anyone close by to take care of them as they get older.

Living in other state - it's hard for me to help, though. Should I broach the subject of her cognitive decline with DB?

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No, don't bring it up with her. If you lived close by, perhaps. Or ask your brother in private how his wife is. Her lifestyle choices seem more an issue to you, and frankly, altho I am sure that you care for her and your brother, it comes across as criticism and will probably be unwelcome. What does her diet and/or exercise have to do with dementia?

No, I'd say keep it to yourself.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 1:26PM
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I agree with sushi. You're not close enough to observe her on a regular basis. If she's a nurse, she may be taking on long hours and be physically and mentally exhausted by the time she gets home. She may simply shut down from any hard thinking because she needs a break. And you may be communicating with her during those periods. Surely her supervisors at work would notice any significant decline.

Plus, as sushi mentioned, you seem to attribute her cognitive slip ups to overweight & lack of exercise. So there's no way to broach the subject without seeming judgmental. It might end up having a very negative impact on your relationship.

Just ask your brother how his wife is doing. Maybe asking if her job is creating stress for her. Be sure to emphasize your care & concern for both of them. If you keep the lines of communication open, then when (or if) there's a problem, he'll probably be more than willing to discuss it with you.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 8:45PM
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You're in another state. You're concerned from these instances you've described but I doubt you know what you think you know and you're assuming that the spouse doesn't notice what you've noticed.

What "help" are you suggesting you might bring to the table? I don't see any place for you in whatever's going on or not going on.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 7:25PM
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