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Therapeutic Lying: Comfort for Seniors with Dementia

By Beth Brown, 9:00 am on

Lying to an elderly loved one with dementia may seem unscrupulous to many families. However, when used carefully and compassionately, this strategy can actually help alleviate dementia symptoms. The senior care professionals at Palm Beach Home Care Assistance examine therapeutic lying and the role it can play in comforting seniors with dementia.

Lying as a Means of Validation

Many dementia caregivers in Palm Beach are tempted to try to correct or reason with their loved ones to bring them back to reality. However, logic and reason no longer apply when a senior has dementia, and both you and your aging loved one can end up frustrated and upset if this approach is taken. Therapeutic lying, also known as validation therapy, allows you to meet your loved one in his or her perceived reality instead of trying to reorient him or her to your reality. 

The Pros of Therapeutic Lying

Telling a therapeutic lie can be a gentle way of sidestepping awkward questions. For example, constantly correcting your loved one by telling him or her a particular family member is deceased can cause unnecessary pain and anguish as he or she relives the grieving process. The occasional fib can also help make your caregiving duties more manageable if it encourages your loved one to eat, bathe, or take his or her medicine as desired.

The Cons of Therapeutic Lying

Telling even a small lie to your loved one could leave you feeling guilty. Even in the advanced stages of dementia, your loved one may experience moments of lucidity, and there is always a risk he or she will realize you lied and feel angry or betrayed as a result. Some dementia care experts believe lying under any circumstances is demeaning and shows a lack of respect.

Applying Therapeutic Lying to Your Loved One’s Care

Use your intuition to determine if therapeutic lying is appropriate when providing Palm Beach senior home care for your loved one. The following guidelines may be helpful in implementing this technique and alleviating his or her dementia symptoms:

  • Try to distract and redirect your loved one to another topic instead of agreeing or disagreeing with his or her statements
  • Identify and validate the emotions behind the statements
  • Only use a fib when it is necessary for your loved one’s safety or when it will enhance his or her quality of life.
  •  Allow your loved one to believe his or her reality as long as he or she is happy and not in danger

Therapeutic lying is just one of many strategies you can use when caring for a senior with dementia. To learn about additional suggestions for alleviating your loved one’s dementia symptoms, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method uses engaging activities to slow cognitive decline, delay the onset of dementia, and help seniors engage with others in an enjoyable way. In addition to dementia and Alzheimer’s care Palm Beach, FL, families trust, we also offer flexible respite and live-in care. Learn more about our high-quality elder care services by calling a knowledgeable Care Manager at 561.429.8292 today.