As a caregiver to an older adult with dementia, you may sometimes find yourself faced with awkward situations in which the senior asks a question that you’re unsure of how to answer without causing pain or making things more challenging. The memory loss caused by dementia alters the reality the senior is living in.
For example, someone with dementia might ask where their mother or spouse is when that person has been dead for years. Reminding them of the death could cause them emotional pain and stress. So, how do you answer? Do you lie and say the person will be home later? If you do, does that make you a bad caregiver? Experts say that practicing some “therapeutic fibbing” is okay in some situations and often even preferable to the truth.
Why Therapeutic Fibbing Is Sometimes Better
Reminding someone with dementia that they are old and people they love are gone can be cruel. To a senior living with dementia, time is confusing, and they may sometimes be living in the past. Sometimes older adults regress to their childhood days and think their parents are still alive. Telling them their parents are dead feels like a fresh wound to them.
Although lying may go against your morals, especially if the senior you are caring for is your parent, it’s okay to do so if you’ll be sparing them pain. Remember that dementia affects short term memory, so the older adult won’t remember you explaining that a person is dead, which means the whole situation could repeat again later. That means if you tell the truth, you’ll have to open the wound over and over again.
How to Use Therapeutic Fibbing
So, how do you respond when your aging relative asks about someone who has died? Well, let’s say the older adult is waiting for their spouse to come home from work. They tell you they have to get dinner ready because their spouse will be home soon. You might say something like, “You’re right. Dad will be home from work, but he called and asked me to tell you he will be late tonight. Let’s go water the flowers and start dinner later.” By the time you finish watering the flowers, the older adult will likely forget that they were waiting for their spouse.
Lying to an aging relative may never come naturally to some caregivers, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty about it. Keep in mind that you’re telling white lies, something like saying you love a gift even when you don’t. You don’t want to hurt the senior. By lying, you are sparing their feelings and helping them to live a happier life.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Homecare in Glenolden, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care.
Call today: (484) 206-4544