Skip to content

Dementia and Family Deaths: Telling or Shielding?

Dementia and Family Deaths: Telling or Shielding? | Caregiver Bliss

Dealing with a family member who has dementia can be challenging and emotionally taxing. One of the toughest decisions you may face is whether or not to inform your parent about the passing of another family member. 

It's natural to want to protect them from distress, but at the same time, you may wonder if they have the right to know and grieve like anyone else. In this article, we will explore the considerations and emotions surrounding this difficult choice.


Understanding Dementia

Before delving into the decision-making process, it's essential to understand what dementia is. Dementia is a progressive neurological disorder that affects memory, cognitive abilities, and communication. As the condition worsens over time, individuals with dementia may struggle to comprehend and retain new information.


Empathy and Compassion

Caring for a parent with dementia requires empathy and compassion. While it may be painful to see them experience distress, it's crucial to remember that they are still human beings with feelings and emotions. If they were close to the deceased family member, they might sense something is wrong even if you don't tell them directly.


Seek Guidance from Healthcare Professionals

Consulting healthcare professionals who specialize in dementia care can provide valuable insight into how to handle such situations. They can help you understand your parent's current mental state and provide advice on how to approach the topic of death.


Assessing Your Parent's Condition

Before making a decision, assess your parent's mental state. Are they still capable of understanding complex emotions and processing significant news? If their dementia is advanced, they might not fully grasp the information, and sharing the news might only cause confusion and distress.


Respecting Their Previous Wishes

Consider your parent's previous wishes and beliefs about being informed of family deaths. If they had expressed a desire to be kept informed in the past, it might be essential to honor those wishes if possible. On the other hand, if they had previously expressed a preference to be shielded from such news, it might be best to respect that choice.


Weighing the Emotional Impact

Consider the emotional impact on both you and your parent. Sharing the news could lead to your parent experiencing distress, and you may also find it challenging to cope with their reaction. On the other hand, not informing them might create feelings of guilt or dishonesty.


Choosing the Right Time and Approach

If you decide to share the news, choose an appropriate time and approach. Pick a calm and comfortable setting with minimal distractions. Keep the conversation simple and straightforward, using clear language and gentle tones. Be prepared to repeat the information if necessary, as individuals with dementia may forget the news quickly.


The Importance of Emotional Support

Regardless of your decision, remember that you are not alone. Seek emotional support from friends, family members, or support groups. Caring for someone with dementia can be isolating, and having a network of understanding individuals can help you navigate through difficult decisions.



Deciding whether to inform a parent with dementia about a family death is an emotionally complex choice. It requires empathy, compassion, and a deep understanding of your parent's mental state. Remember that every situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. 

Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals and considering your parent's wishes are crucial steps in making the best decision for your loved one and yourself. No matter what you choose, remember to lean on your support network to help you through this challenging time.


We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this sensitive topic. Have you faced a similar decision regarding informing a loved one with dementia about a family death? Share your insights and stories in the comments below, and let's support and learn from one another in this journey of caregiving.


Dementia Resource Page

Dig deeper into understanding dementia. Visit our comprehensive Dementia Resource Page for valuable insights, practical tips, and expert guidance on navigating the complexities of dementia and striving to provide the best possible quality of life for your loved one.


Free Guide:

Caring For Your Loved Ones

Caring for Your Loved Ones: 10 Essential Tips for Family Caregivers of Elderly ParentsAttention family caregivers! Are you struggling to provide the best care for your aging parents? Don't worry; we've got you covered.

Download our free guide, Caring for Your Loved Ones: 10 Essential Tips for Family Caregivers of Elderly Parents, and unlock the secrets to becoming an exceptional caregiver.

From adapting the home environment to promoting independence, this invaluable resource will transform your caregiving experience into a more rewarding journey. Don't wait – give your loved ones the care they deserve, and download your free copy today!

Leave a Comment