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Gran diagnosed with alzheimers - do I tell dad (her estranged son)?!

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    After one load of bad news comes another - this time, more worrying. My grandma, 82, was diagnosed with alzheimers yesterday and has probably had it for a while, given that she has seemed confused for a couple of years now.

    Her sons are both in their 40s with young children, one lives in north London, the other lives around 50 miles from her (she lives in central Scotland). Im her oldest grandchild - her others are at the oldest, 13, and at the youngest, 6/7 ..

    My dad is her adopted son (I think) - he was adopted by a couple in the late 50s, A & B. B (the "mum") died in the early 60s, and A remarried B's brother's wife's sister in the mid 60s (whom I know as grandma) .. I don't know if grandma actually adopted dad but anyway she brought him up as her son too.

    He's long, long, lost contact with his adopted family preferring to be with his biological relations. He's quite desperate for me to follow suit, to lose contact but I was brought up to believe grandma etc were my family and they still are to me, despite knowing we are no more related than me and the man next door are!

    Anyway - my dad doesn't know that grandma's got alzheimers. I'm the only person in the entire family that has his contact details and I really feel, while grandma is still quite "normal", that he ought to know, so he can right things I suppose. He was told when his adopted dad developed terminal bowel cancer (10 years ago) and was quite involved with his funeral, sat at his bedside etc. I don't know if he would want to do the same for grandma but I feel he should at least be given the chance.

    I don't think honestly that I could cope with not telling him and then years down the line having to break the news that his "mum" died and that I didn't let him know.

    My mum says it's up to dad if he wants to sort things but obviously he can't if he doesn't know. He has the address and facebook of both his brothers, he has all our phone numbers but I know he won't get in touch unless there's quite a pressing reason . He has no idea - as far as I know - where my grandma lives, s she moved after granda died. So there's no way really that he could find out unless I let him know.

    Would want to discuss it with my dad's "brothers" but feel they'd not be too chuffed at my wanting to let him know, one brother can't stand him for the things he has done to my mum, my sister and I and his family (he's been quite emotionally/sexually abusive before and raped my mum numerous times - he's not a pleasant man). A lot of people have told me I need to block him out of my life forever.

    So anyway, what do I do? Do I just get on with things and leave dad to find out himself, risking him not discovering until it's too late? Do I email him and ask him to get in touch with his brothers - not telling him why? Do I suggest to brothers that they contact him? Do I just email and mention it, i.e. not as if I was emailing him specifically to tell him that?

    (ideally he would act like the bloody adult he is and not leave others to sort out his mess, but there you go..
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    Tell him, he should at least know so he can decide what to do himself.
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    Just e-mail and him and tell it straight. Then he can make his own mind up on what he wants to do.

    2 options. 1, he acts like a douche. 2, he responds like a normal human being and contacts the woman who raised him as her own.
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    I think you should tell him too. Like other people have said, he'll make up his own mind about what he wants to do, but it's important that he's informed about what's happening and given the chance to.

    However, I think that the email you send should be specifically about this, rather than just a passing mention. There's no point hiding it amongst a load of other things, it is what it is and however you tell him about it, it'll have the same effect.

    Good luck, and I hope you're coping okay too :hugs:
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    Thanks for advice. Got to email him anyway by the end of the week so will see ..

    Am not too too upset; did it see it coming as she was very obviously confused and was quite irrational at times - she would rant at my mum and her other daughter in law for hours, telling them they were bad parents and were going to bring up "damaged" children etc. She's always been one to tell you straight what she thinks of you, but this wasn't my grandma, this was just plain rudeness and it seemed obvious that something wasn't right .. She also phoned my aunty once 100 times in one week, asking thing such as what day it was or where the TV remote had gone..

    Her memory of the past is quite clear I think, we are currently trying to trace her family tree - she was getting quite muddled on the phone though when I was asking her things. The difficulty with that is that I don't want to further confuse her - her parents died a long time ago and I feel discussing them might just baffle her.

    She does remember a good deal of the past though, it seems to all be one time for her and she doesn't seem to get the concept of things having moved on - I was asking, for instance, after my cousin (her sister's grandchild) who's at Strathclyde Uni.. She said he was fine and enjoying rugby, and then said she had been to see them playing rugby. This was news to me, as she rarely sees my cousins - every few years if that. She said she and Elsie sat watching Peter and Andrew playing at Edinburgh and how cold it was - Andrew and Peter are her sister's sons, and haven't played rubgy since the 70s. So that was quite sad. She talks a lot about the war too, and about her school years - they seem quite clear in her mind. Sadly her best friend - a lady she has known since the age of five - passed away not too long ago as well; my mum says in the 80s she and her friends nicknamed themselves the "Fab Five" - today, it's the "Fab Two".

    She's a wonderful grandma though, has been a second mum to me at times and looked after me as a child when I needed it (a long story), have many memories of visiting her as a child - she and granda owned half a Victorian Mansion house (a six bedroom block plus the east wing of another six bedrooms and servants accomodation), they always held massive Christmas parties and were very "pseudo posh" - breakfast was eaten in the dining room with silverware and fresh fruit, homemade jams made from fruit grown in the garden etc .. mornings were spent in the drawing room (yes, really, in 1994!) with grand piano and endless bookcases (granda was a professor and had more books than he could read).. Yet despite all the posh stuff she was never without a cupboard full of mars bars (which she would sneak downstairs at nighttime to eat), she always carried a pair of walking boots and a "rain mate", and took off to Jordan a couple of years ago with the other two members of the "Fab Three" .. She has a sky plus box even and records the rugby, if you phone during important matches she'll refuse to talk etc.

    But yes, looking back now she has been declining - my dear granda died in 2004 of bowel cancer and I think it was after that, that she got noticeably "old" .. I worry now that we have a diagnosis that she'll decline faster but hopefully not.

    It just brings this urgency to things suddenly that never seemed there before - it's so important now to keep up with her whereas before I have left weeks, months even slide before contacting her. Planning on buying her this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dear-Grandma...3297310&sr=1-1) plus an interflora bouqet as a way of cheering her up, unsure though..
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    How do you think your gran would feel if he turned up on her doorstep? That would be the crux of the matter for me, as news like this can trigger a rethink of past family relations.

    With regards to talking to her about the past - with Alzheimers it is the most recent memories that go first, whereas the oldest ones stay the longest (particularly those from her 30s). For that reason, it is quite likely that she will enjoy talking about the past.

    On a more day-to-day basis, you may like to read up on the SPECAL method. We used elements of it a few years ago when we had a confused elderly person on our hands, and found it to be quite successful.

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Updated: July 26, 2012
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