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!
As you’ve seen in my last few posts, life has been hard these days. For me, writing is my outlet, sharing what I think might help someone else who is a caregiver of someone whom they love who has Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. I write in order to connect with others who are walking this path because we understand how emotional it can be and you just need support from others who get it.
There is no cure for this disease. It is fatal. As the mind shuts down, the body begins its journey as well. It’s genetic as well, which means that those of us with relatives with the disease, can be subject to it in the future.
Think about that for a moment…what you may be witnessing as a child of a parent with Alzheimer’s, may be you one day. It puts a terrible spin on the whole experience, don’t you think? For then, with that knowledge, we wonder if we have it and every tidbit of forgetfulness becomes a full blown worry if it’s early onset of the disease.
Just because a parent has the disease, doesn’t necessarily mean that the offspring will develop it though, which is good news. For it’s hard enough to watch a loved one struggle to hold onto information, recognize people and remember that loved ones have passed away. The incessant questioning and cycles of repetition can make it hard to be patient, especially when we are hurting as well. In truth, I’ve cried a boatload of tears lately in frustration and sadness in feeling so helpless.
The power of prayer and faith helps. When I can’t stop trying to fix the situation or at least better it, I find that getting on my knees to pray helps quiet my mind. Simply handing it over to God for the night, once I finally let go, let Him in and let God take it from here that is. I’m a tough cookie. I like to keep a handle on things so it’s harder for me to allow the Universe and God to hold onto everything while I sleep. But it helps so much.
Do you ever find yourself on your knees praying when all else fails?
With the uncertainty of life, we let go when we have exhausted all means of control. Sometimes it takes us longer to finally come to the conclusion that there are simply parts of life that we must allow for we cannot stop them. For a planner like me, it’s always felt unacceptable. Searching my brain, I would try to come up with endless ways to make whatever situation better for me, my family, my friends ~ relentlessly trying to improve a situation that I found unacceptable because it was causing someone else or me pain.
But there are times now, after sleepless nights of fret, worry and planning, that I am learning, albeit slowly, to let go and to allow God and the Universe to proceed. What I’ve learned in the wee hours of the morning is to go with the flow, release, let the river take its course and have faith that as long as I can put my head on the pillow in peace, knowing I have done all with a loving heart, there is nothing more I can do.
However, it’s hard ~ this letting go. So I am learning to let go and let God ~ and let Him in.
I think it’s human nature to believe we’ve got this, we can figure it out and make it work. But we forget that there is God, the Universe and the Laws of Attraction who also carry us when we allow them to work their ‘magic’ as well.
Being in the present moment is a life lesson worth learning for me. I am watching my Mom struggle with Alzheimer’s and being in the present moment with her. Sometimes her present moment isn’t ‘reality’ but wherever her brain is at the time. So to honor her, we gather in her present moment and support her, enjoying whatever gifts we can.
It’s a shift of thinking that has taken me a long time to accept and to process in my own brain. However, love is accepting and above all, I love my Mom. So I accept where she is at any given moment. I’ve come a long way baby, but I still have much to learn.
Isn’t that the way life school is anyway? Learn, practice and love?
Happy Valentine’s Day dear friends!
I wish you love and happiness today and always. May you always remember how cherished you are to those who love you (and to me!) and how grateful and honored I feel to be connected with you! May we send out kindness and love to those around us today and always. May we all feel the infinite love of God, the Universe, and the Divine in every moment! May we love ourselves and others. May we cherish our connections (both past and present) and increase them exponentially every day by our kindness, generosity of spirit and gratitude.
May we remember how loved we are, every single moment of every single day.
You are loved, dear friends.
Be beautiful inside,
in your heart,
with the lasting charm
of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is so precious to God.
1 Peter 3-4
I saw this quote printed recently and I adored it! So of course, I had to share it with you. This is how I try to live my life…I hope you find it inspirational as well.
Sweet dreams. I miss you all and I hope I can find time to blog more in the future.
In honor of the canonization of Mother Teresa today, please watch the video below, in her own words, speaking of love.
“Where does this love begin? In our own family, in our own home. How does it begin? By praying together. Family that prays together, stays together and if you stay together, you will love one another as God loves each one of you
Today in the world there is so much suffering. Because of that one of prayer of unity in the family so today when we are together, let us make one strong resolution that we will bring prayer into our family, that we will teach our children to pray and pray with them and you will see the joy and the love and the peace that will come into your hearts. Because the fruit of prayer is the deepening of faith and the fruit of faith is love and the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace. Works of love are works of peace that is why let us bring the tender love of God in our families.”
~Mother Teresa, speech on Love
Love one another.