If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, you’ve probably told a fib or two, or perhaps better said, you’ve stretched the truth in order to spare them pain. I know I have. I was recently talking with a friend whose Momma is dear to my heart and we were discussing how we’ve stretched the truth at times in order to keep our loved ones’ minds at peace. My friend was sharing how she worries about the tall tales we have used to cover up the truth when faced with uneasy questions. The subject of the Good Book and Judgement Day came up.
Do you think we’d be forgiven for the lies, even though they were said with a loving heart and in the hopes of calming the confused minds of our loved ones?
What do you think?
Please don’t misunderstand my intentions. I’m not advocating lying. I’m simply putting it out there for discussion among those who are in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia community. I want to know if you have fibbed and what you think about it. Let me clarify, I didn’t just decide to fib on a whim. My intentions were to soothe their confused minds and to give them peace and let them be happy in the present moment. They have grieved enough in this lifetime.
For me, I have fibbed when I felt it necessary to not cause my loved ones repeated emotional pain. I have measured and taken my cues from my loved ones’ emotional status when they’ve asked me hard questions repeatedly about someone – for example, “Where is he/she?” Instead of telling the truth outright, “They passed away,” (and you’ve known that, but you can’t remember it), I’ve learned to ask them, “Where do you think he/she is?” Many times, I have gone along with whatever they are thinking which has brought them peace. I’ve also been known to answer in vague terms, such as, “I know if she/he could be here, they would be. They are looking out for you still. Yes, they are at home,” (but I’m meaning their spiritual home and the confused mind is thinking the physical home).
I’ve found that being in the moment with loved ones with memory problems is hard when we know the reality, but easier, when we put their hearts first. There are times when they know their loved ones have passed away and the tears of sadness that ensue are heart-wrenching for us all. They remember that they died and the sadness is all-encompassing even though they had forgotten that they knew. There are times when they ask for validation and I am careful to make sure I check to see what they are remembering before I answer. For if they remember that so and so passed away, it is nothing but an insult to lie at that point. Truth given with love soothes the confused mind many times. And yet, at others, there is no soothing truth. It is simply a moment filled with anguish and peace is nowhere to be found.
I have learned that changing the subject often helps in some situations. Repeatedly going down that sad path of loss can be detoured when we change the subject drastically. Heaven knows, I’ve interrupted that path often with the offer of a cookie or a Hershey’s kiss or just by telling them, “I love you so much!” and following up with a hug. Sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s worth a try.
I know there are different degrees of memory loss as it is a progressive disease. Even moment to moment, I have seen clarity, then confusion, changing in a few minutes span of time. It’s a roller coaster ride sometimes and hard to manage for all of us. I can’t even begin to imagine how it is for them when thoughts can be fleeting, words elusive and memory blurred or simply out of reach.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you fib sometimes? Do you have any tips for redirecting conversations? What works for you and your loved ones? What doesn’t work? Please share!