I was raised to always tell the truth which some people find refreshing and others find crass. It’s taken me a while to understand how and when to share the truth, a partial truth and when to just keep my mouth closed.
As my family has been on the dementia journey the truth always seemed to create a roadblock for me. It took me months to accept and understand that what my parents said they fully believed was reality. At first I’d argue with it to try to demonstrate just how off their brains were behaving, but it only created conflict and made my mother distrustful and my dad would shut down.
On the other side of this rough road we traveled, I can now listen to and talk with my parents even when they are sharing information that is fictional. Now that my parents are in Assisted Living and I’m not worried about their safety or risk of being taken advantage of, I can just enjoy the time I spend with them. Matured.
To revisit some of my past struggles with this, here are few of my stories:
How I Disarmed my Contentious Demented Mother
How Different Each Dementia Can Be
6 thoughts on “Letting go of the truth”
This is a real battle for many families. My mom would constantly correct my dad who had Alzheimer’s and I think she did so to try to maintain a bit of control in her world that was quickly falling apart. Alas, it only left both of them frustrated.
Oh my! I know how it goes. It’s difficult to listen when my mom will correct my dad with bad information (and usually a scolding) — but I’ve learned not to jump into their disagreements. As my dad’s Alzheimer’s progresses, he seems to be arguing back now where he would just not respond pre-dementia.
As you have probably also learned, there is another side to this “truth” coin. Just as we learn to accept reality as our parents, spouses, loved ones, patients with dementia perceive it and tell it to us, we also have to learn that messages we deliver need to follow a different set of rules from typical communications.
There is a different ethic involved in what we say and how we say it. If my caregiver knows that my mother died 25 years ago, but I do not – in fact, it is time to go visit her, in my reality – the last thing my caregiver needs to do is be “honest.”
Habilitation Therapy is a marvelous system for approaching these issues. We use it to train our Home Care Aides.
Bert Cave, Support For Home Health Care
Thank you Bert — great example. I haven’t faced that one, but have had many where I did not need to share the “truth.”