My uncle received a diagnosis of dementia from his local memory clinic, but it was only when we needed funding from the local authority that we got a more specific diagnosis. I was somewhat relieved to get a sub diagnosis and know more about the type of dementia my uncle had. It was vascular dementia, a condition which we knew quite a lot about. Another relative had suffered a TIA (Trans Ischaemic Attack) or ‘mini stroke’ as a relatively young man and as the years passed, he had developed vascular dementia.
Telling my uncle his diagnosis in a way I knew he would understand
I wanted to tell my uncle myself about his diagnosis and what it was likely to mean for him. Therefore, the care home staff where he had moved to held back from saying anything. I gently told my uncle that he had vascular dementia. I explained that it was the same condition as our other relative. Just like it had happened to him, I added that it was likely to progress slowly, and he might not notice any difference in his memory for some time. This information was easy to digest and didn’t cause him any anxiety. He accepted the diagnosis straightaway.
I think that the last years of my uncle’s life were relatively carefree and happy because it is often fear of the unknown, that causes the most anxiety.