As an Elder Law attorney, I have learned that just because a person has dementia does not mean they cannot process information through all their senses. Do not casually discuss with others, in front of your loved one, that you are thinking about placing them into a nursing home. They may not understand the words necessarily, but their sensitivity to non-verbal cues is heightened. Just from your tone, posture and facial expressions, they will know something bad is happening and become upset and fearful.
Along the same vein, it is very important to exercise sensitivity and discretion in front of your loved one when discussing their disease with others, or your plans for managing their disease. An Alzheimer’s patient may not remember they have a memory problem, and talking about it in front of them may cause them to repeatedly experience the shock of first learning of their disease. For an insightful list of tips for caregivers, see “Living with Dementia” on the Current Information page of our website.