Trust is an important component of the relationships between seniors and their caregivers, and many families would never even think of lying to their elderly loved ones. However, when approached with compassion, a strategy called therapeutic lying can actually benefit seniors living with memory-related conditions like dementia. Here are several ways you can use therapeutic lying to alleviate your loved one’s dementia symptoms.
1. Play Along with False Beliefs
Pointing out your loved one’s false beliefs will likely lead to further confusion and negative emotions. To reduce the risk of an outburst, playing along with a harmless belief can maintain harmony. For example, you may choose to let your loved one believe you’re the housekeeper if it helps him or her comply with daily routines.
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2. Omit Some of the Facts
It’s possible to tell the truth without going into every detail. If your loved one is upset about recent news regarding his or her health, explain that he or she will be cared for by professional physicians who know the best way to treat his or her ailment. Avoiding worst-case scenarios or possibilities down the road allows your loved one to focus on what can be done in the moment.
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3. Bend the Truth
A senior with dementia may forget certain family members have passed away, and it only hurts to relive the loss all over again. If your loved one asks about his or her deceased spouse, you can simply mention that the spouse is safe or not available at the moment. Providing a simple answer is often enough to satisfy a senior with dementia.
4. Use Diversion Tactics
Diversion tactics aren’t technically lying, but they do obscure the truth by shifting a senior’s attention. Changing the subject or focusing on a new activity can calm your loved one if he or she is upset due to a delusion or sudden understanding of reality. Looking out the window, starting a new part of the daily routine, or turning on a favorite song can help your loved one leave a painful subject in the past.
5. Ask Questions
If lying to your loved one feels wrong, you can ask open-ended questions to allow him or her to develop an answer independently. For instance, you can ask your loved one to tell you where his or her spouse is that day. If your loved one claims the deceased spouse is out shopping for food, you can simply nod and play along with this belief.
Caring for a senior with dementia can be challenging for family caregivers. Luckily, there is dementia care Rhode Island families can rely on. Professional dementia caregivers help seniors with dementia stay safe and comfortable at home by preventing wandering, providing cognitive stimulation, and assisting with household chores. If you need professional care for your loved one, Home Care Assistance is just a phone call away. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (401) 284-0979.