Therapeutic Fibbing: Why Experts Recommend Lying to Someone with Dementia

Therapeutic fibbing is a kind way to step into the reality of someone with dementia

Stepping into someone’s reality isn’t the same as lying

Honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

That’s because their brain may experience a different version of reality.

Dementia damages the brain and causes progressive decline in the ability to understand and process information. 

That’s why forcing someone to abandon their version of reality and join our “real world” can cause confusion, pain, anxiety, fear, and anger.

So, dementia care experts often recommend a technique called therapeutic fibbing. It helps you step into their current reality and spare them unnecessary upset and distress.

This technique takes some getting used to because going along with your older adult’s new reality can feel like you’re lying to them.

But using white lies to validate their feelings and reassure them is certainly not the same as lying for a malicious reason.

We explain why always telling the truth could be cruel, how therapeutic fibbing helps you join their reality, and share two real-life examples of how to use therapeutic fibs to provide comfort and reassurance.




Telling the truth could be cruel

Most of us are taught from a young age that any kind of lying is horrible and dishonest, especially lying to family and anyone we care about and respect.

So when we hear about using therapeutic fibbing to lie to someone with dementia, it might seem cruel and wrong at first.

But always sticking to the truth, especially about an emotional subject or something trivial, is more likely to cause your older adult pain, confusion, and distress.

That happens because dementia prevents people from properly processing and retaining information.

Plus, having short-term memory issues means they’ll probably soon forget the conversation, so it will come up again.

Telling the truth each time forces them to experience fresh distress over and over again.

Is it necessary to cause them so much distress, especially when the truth you tell them is likely to be misunderstood or quickly forgotten?


Therapeutic fibbing helps you step into their reality

An effective way to step into your older adult’s reality is to use therapeutic fibbing.

It means agreeing or saying things that are not true to avoid causing someone distress and to make them feel safe and comforted.

In many ways, this technique is similar to telling a friend that you love the thoughtful gift they gave you, even if you don’t actually like it. Telling the absolute truth in that case doesn’t change the situation and would only hurt your friend’s feelings.

Here are two examples that illustrate the difference between being completely truthful and using therapeutic fibbing.

While your specific situations will be different, the same principles of gently going along with their reality and finding a distraction will apply.

Example 1
Being completely truthful
Your mom: School is over. My mommy is coming to pick me up now. I need to go outside to wait for her!

You: You’re 89 years old. You haven’t been to school in decades. And don’t you remember that your mom died 25 years ago? You don’t need to go outside because she’s not coming to pick you up.

Your mom: What? What do you mean my mom is dead? No! She can’t be dead!! I saw her this morning! She told me she would pick me up!!! I need to go outside to wait!! (She’s crying, agitated, and screaming.)

Using therapeutic fibbing
Your mom: School is over. My mommy is coming to pick me up now. I need to go outside to wait for her!

You: Oh yes, it’s almost time to go. Your mom asked me to give you a snack first so you won’t get hungry on the way home. Let’s have some juice and crackers while we wait.

Your mom: Ok, I’ll have a snack.

You: Use this distraction as an opportunity to occupy her with the snack and a fun activity until she lets go of or forgets about the idea of her mother picking her up.




Example 2
Being completely truthful
Your spouse: I need to go to work now. I’m already late.

You: What do you mean? You don’t have a job. You retired 20 years ago. And remember, you have Alzheimer’s now. Stop trying to go out.

Your spouse: Why would you say that!? You’re lying and trying to keep me prisoner! Why are you trying to stop me! I’m leaving, get out of my way! (They’re angry, agitated, and banging things around.)

Using therapeutic fibbing
Your spouse: I need to go to work now. I’m already late.

You (suggestion 1): That’s right, I almost forgot. Well we can’t have you going off without a good breakfast. Don’t worry, you have plenty of time, I forgot to change the clock after the time change.

Give them a meal if it’s the right timing or a snack/beverage if it’s not. While they eat, have a pleasant chat about a topic they enjoy to distract them from the idea of going to work. Or, when they’re distracted enough from eating, talk about an enjoyable activity you’ll do together when they finish eating to set up the next transition.

You (suggestion 2): That’s right, I almost forgot. Let’s get your jacket, it’s a bit chilly today, and make sure your lunch is packed. Here, I’ll help.

Gently lead them to get their jacket and find a pleasant distraction along the way: look out the window and start talking about the birds, stop in front of  a partially completed fun activity like a puzzle, stop for a drink of water, etc. When they’re engaged in something else and become distracted, they’re likely to let go of the idea of going to work.


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


  • Reply June 25, 2021

    Beth Vische

    I have been a LPN in long-term care for over 30 years. While the term ‘therapeutic lying’ is new to me, it’s something that’s come naturally to me when dealing with dementia patients since day one. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s before nursing school, & I realized then after watching my grandfather interact with her that any attempts to orient her to reality just upset her more. One of the most frequent things I’ve dealt with in long-term care are patients searching for their spouses, who frequently have been dead for years, or their small children who are now grown. Telling a dementia patient their spouse died years ago serves no positive purpose; it only sends them into the throes of grief and confusion–“why wasn’t I told! I missed the funeral!” When I was a new nurse, Alzheimer’s units, now common and called Memory Care units, were just beginning to pop up. Most dementia patients were on intermediate care units along with patients who were alert and oriented. Most nurses and CNAs intuitively knew it was best for all involved to go along and re-direct these folks. A couple of CNAs early in my career were fired for repeatedly and needlessly upsetting dementia patients by telling them their spouse was dead. The facility cited psychological abuse. Now my dad is a different story. Being precise is part of his makeup. My mom had Alzheimer’s and died in 2015. I was temporarily staying with my parents, caring for my mom when she got to need more care than my dad could provide. One evening she was terribly worried about my brother…where was he? Was he okay? What was he doing? I was reassuring her that he was just fine and at his house, when my dad chimed in: “Well, it’s not really his house, it’s Scott’s,” (My brother was living with our cousin, Scott at the time), then “Well, it’s not really Scott’s, it’s the landlord’s, maybe not even the landlord’s, probably owned by the bank, or the mortgage company”. I had to explain to my dad that he was exasperating to me, let alone how he was upsetting my mom, that when people refer to home or their house they’re referring to the place they live, not a space they own. Aaargh! What came to me intuitively he had to learn. Attending Alzheimer support group meetings helped tremendously. All three of us went together. Meetings were at our local Council on Aging, who also provided adult day care so family members who were primary care providers could attend. Even after over 20 years of dementia care experience I learned a lot. There’s always more to learn. Sometimes it’s very difficult to go along with their altered reality. When my grandmother got to the point she had to go to long-term care, she was convinced that when my grandfather left in the evening he was out having an affair instead of going home. This was before cell phones & there was only a phone at the end of the hall for residents to use, and it was right outside her room. They had to remove the phone & in that case we had to repeatedly tell her he wasn’t having an affair. And sometimes it can be hurtful to grown children when a parent with dementia gets upset and tells them that they’re NOT their children, their children are young. It’s difficult for them to go along, but it can cause less distress if they’re told that their children are safe and being cared for by a trusted friend or family member. I once had a patient who was one of a kind. She was always nicely dressed, complete with jewelry and makeup. Visitors were known to hold the front door open for her in her wheelchair, thinking she was a visitor, too. One day she approached the nurse’s station & said “Excuse me, my husband and I are staying in this hotel for the night, we’re taking the train from Cincinnati to Chicago, & we need a room”. I started to tell her we had a nice room available when my CNA broke in and said “NO! YOUR HUSBAND DIED 15 YEARS AGO!” She said she refused to lie. The lady with dementia took off down the hall, crying and shrieking “Nobody told me! I missed the funeral!”. She was agitated all night. For no reason. The compassionate thing to would have been to go along, take her to her room, and put her to bed, telling her that her husband was fine & would be later. Soothing and comforting, lessening agitation and mental anguish are a big part of caring for people with dementia. This is not the kind of lying we were all taught was wrong. What you were taught as a young child shouldn’t be a source of emotional distress and the re-living of grief, over and over in an emotionally vulnerable person. It’s knowingly inflicting emotional pain upon another. It’s emotional abuse. A few days later, the lady who wanted a hotel room approached me again. This time she said “Ah, yes, sorry to bother you, but my husband and I read an article in the newspaper this morning, and we decided we would like to try a male doctor this evening”. My CNA that day was Preston, a middle aged black man who had been laid off from a high paying, union factory job and was putting his two daughters through college. He was an awesome CNA. I just smiled and told her I had just the man for her and her husband. She was happy and Preston put her to bed easily, telling her that her husband was playing cards (he knew the husband used to play cards) and would be in later. When she fell asleep, she fell asleep happy, all was right in her world. Isn’t compassionate care what we all want for our loved ones? This can’t be compared to lying to a loved one WITHOUT dementia just to keep them happy. It’s not the same as lying to your spouse, saying you’re not having an affair when you are, just to keep them from being hurt. Or lying to anyone on serious issues just to spare their feelings. And I don’t mean telling Aunt Flo her birthday gift was awful, or your Al his his new toupee looks ridiculous! Therapeutic Lying isn’t new, the term is new. Caregivers know, happy, calm, and peaceful is the goal. People with dementia live in an altered state of reality, one we cannot imagine and hope to never experience ourselves. Going along with their reality in order to avoid repeated episodes of grief, anguish, and distress over things long gone by isn’t lying, in that situation it’s the right thing to do.

    • Reply June 25, 2021


      Thank you for sharing all these wonderful stories and real-life examples of why it’s so important to be kind and provide comfort to someone who has dementia. We absolutely agree, the primary goal is to help someone feel as calm and happy as possible. When going along with their reality is safe and will make them feel secure and happy, that’s the best approach to take 💜

  • Reply January 6, 2021


    We (5 siblings) are taking care of our mom and our Father who is 89 does not believe in therapeutic fibbing . She has come home from a nursing facility and he continues to say things to her that he shouldn’t be telling her. Ex: While mom is at table we give her medication and food and he tells us not to put things on her left side because she cannot see. He tells her that she is thin and needs to gain weight. He continually tells her that he wants to eat the food she used to cook and asks her “you want to cook right?’ which she is unable to do. He wants to tell her that she is not in her 2 nd floor apartment and we moved her to the first floor of their home where her mom lived when she was alive. . So much more
    How do we stop him from doing this to her !!!

  • Reply November 6, 2020


    When we first started caring for my Aunt, she would ask where her brother (my father) was and we would reply that he died. This would make her sad. After dong this a few times we would just reply that he was out of town but he made sure that we would take care of her. This made her happy and was a harmless lie under the circumstances.

    • Reply November 6, 2020


      That’s a wonderful way to respond to a difficult question 💜

  • Reply August 8, 2020

    Martie Partie

    My mother is accusing my wife and I of stealing things even though we no longer live with her. They are also things that cannot be replaced such as a gift her mother gave to her before she died. (a trinket box which cannot be replaced etc). I cannot admit to taking it — if it was 10 dollars of maybe 10 Pounds I could give it to her and be the end of it. Wondering what I should do about it. She no longer wants to see my wife and calls her a thief on a daily basis and worse.

    • Reply August 17, 2020


      I’m sorry this is happening. The damage that dementia causes in the brain can often make a person paranoid and try to make sense of the lost item by making false accusations.

      It’s not necessary to agree, but it is important to stay calm and try to understand the emotion behind what they’re saying, not the exact words. The articles below give examples, like when a person with dementia makes accusations about their money being stolen or that they’re being poisoned.

      You’ll have to experiment with what works best to defuse your situation. For some people, hearing a brief denial of the accusation and being distracted and redirected to another activity will work. In other cases, any kind of acknowledgement of whatever they’ve said could cause them to get even more upset, angry, and fixated on the idea.

      Here are a couple of articles with tips on how to distract and redirect when false accusations are made:
      — Responding to 4 Common Dementia Accusations: Stealing, Poisoning, Being Held Prisoner
      ​– ​8 Ways to Deal with False Dementia Accusations

  • Reply October 25, 2019

    Marilyn G

    Whenever someone tries to bring the dementia person back to reality or ask them questions that they can no longer answer, I tell them what someone told me, “If this person had a broken leg, you would not expect them to perform a jump at your request; so, why do you expect their broken brain to perform?” One day, my mother was anxious. I figured out that she was missing my father. I just smiled and reminded her that she married a farmer and he was busy baling hay that day and he would see her tomorrow. She was satisfied. This conversation happened in January with snow on the ground. Therapeutic fibbing kept our mother content and happy. When my mother’s Alzheimer disease got to a certain stage, we just no longer told her anything that was sad or distressful or worrisome. Only good news.

    • Reply October 25, 2019


      That’s a wonderful, spot-on analogy! Thank you for sharing the example with your mother. It’s fantastic that you were able to figure out the cause of her anxiety and provide comfort and relief in such a kind, compassionate way 💜

  • Reply September 19, 2019

    Annette A Edwards

    What if the delusions and accusations are directed toward you , the wife and caretaker, and they are sexual accusations of many kinds? I find it very difficult to agree that I am doing things which I am not doing, especially in this area.

    • Reply September 20, 2019


      I’m sorry this is happening. The damage that dementia causes in the brain can often make a person paranoid.

      It’s not necessary to agree, but it is important to stay calm and try to understand the emotion behind what they’re saying, not the exact words. The articles below give examples, like when a person with dementia makes accusations about their money being stolen or that they’re being poisoned.

      You’ll have to experiment with what works best to defuse your situation. For some people, hearing a brief denial of the accusation and being distracted and redirected to another activity will work. In other cases, any kind of acknowledgement of whatever they’ve said could cause them to get even more upset, angry, and fixated on the idea.

      Here are a couple of articles with tips on how to distract and redirect when false accusations are made:
      ​– ​8 Ways to Deal with False Dementia Accusations
      — Responding to 4 Common Dementia Accusations: Stealing, Poisoning, Being Held Prisoner

    • Reply November 21, 2020


      I am in the same boat with my mil right now!! So hard and frustrating.she thinks I’m poisoning her and wanting to be with her imaginary boyfriend..feel free to vent to me anytime.

      • Reply December 10, 2020


        We’re so sorry that this is happening 🙁 Hopefully the suggestions in these articles might be helpful:
        – Responding to 4 Common Dementia Accusations: Stealing, Poisoning, Being Held Prisoner
        – ​8 Ways to Deal with False Dementia Accusations

      • Reply February 8, 2021


        My father died 2 months ago and my mother’s dementia has gotten worse since then. Every day she asks where my father is and I say he’s not home. But a few times she has gotten upset and said he hasn’t come home for days and demands to know why. I never know what to tell her so I just say I don’t know and try to change the subject. What other answers can I give?

        • Reply February 8, 2021


          It might take some trial and error to find some answers that your mother will accept. For example, you might say that your father went on a brief trip to visit a family member who needed some help with something, he’s working late and will be home soon, or he went to run an errand and will be back soon.

          The answers that are likely to work best will be based on your mother and father’s lives together, so it will help to think creatively and find reasons that seem reasonable.

  • Reply September 14, 2019

    Wendy Petersen

    I wish I had had this website when my mother had dementia! It is such a difficult disease to deal with and my father could never “go down the rabbit hole,” as I called it. It was a bit like playing Alice in Wonderland, and I had no problem with it, but dad insisted on the truth at all cost. Consequently, half the time mom didn’t know why he was mad at her.

    We had to just try it and see, having somewhere to go to get advice would have been so helpful. On the good days I was her daughter – both adopted and not (I’m not adopted) Other days I was a friend/caregiver or whoever she decided on. I loved her whoever she thought I was, and at night when she wanted to “go home,” I always told her that it was cold/dark/late outside and the nice people in the house had made up a bed for her, and we could go home the next day….. she was always happy with that idea, and quickly forgot.

    • Reply September 14, 2019


      So glad you found us! You clearly did a wonderful job caring for your mom, it can be tough to get in the mindset to join their reality. That’s a very kind and comforting way to answer her request to go home — thanks for sharing!

  • Reply September 10, 2019


    Is it lying when you sit on the floor with your child and pretend to be a prince, a monster, or a car? I have a 75 year-old client that believes he has a dog. Is is lying for me to play along with him? In both of these cases, I am meeting the person where they are and connecting with them in a healthy way. There are facilities that mimic the real world or a small village where dementia patients live comfortably without questioning their surroundings and display no anxiety about being there. Is this lying? I think we have to think about what the ultimate objective is here. Are you only attempting to preserve your own moral principles for your own purpose, or are you attempting to provide sensitive, compassionate care for a damaged human being in need.

    • Reply September 10, 2019


      That is a wonderful perspective! Thank you for sharing your experience 💜 We absolutely agree, the priority is to meet the person where they are and to be as compassionate and kind as we can.

  • Reply July 29, 2019

    Arlyn Adderson

    My mother is arguing with someone that only she see . How can I help her?

  • Reply July 28, 2019

    Carole Klingler

    I prefer Naomi Feil’s Validation Methods that teach us not to lie but to validate a feeling. In example #1, instead of lying, you would say something like, “what will your mommy do when you come home.” Allowing the person to respond and building on it. If the answer is, “she always gives me a hug and then I get a cookie and milk.” You can respond by saying, “she sounds like a very good mommy, was she a good cook? The goal is to be encouraging her to talk more about her feelings of missing her mommy. The theory is that deep down she knows her mother isn’t alive, but at this moment she has an unmet human need that needs validating.

    • Reply July 28, 2019


      That’s a wonderful example and a fantastic technique. Thanks for sharing!

      It’s helpful for caregivers to have many tools they can use to suit the situation they’re in. In cases where the person with dementia is extremely stubborn or confrontational, it may be necessary to tell a fib to resolve the issue.

    • Reply August 9, 2019

      Kathleen Watson

      I too am a Naomi Feil fan!!! I agree with what you suggested, and it’s a great response.

  • Reply July 25, 2019


    There is no correct or good way to lie, I would be very upset if I were lied to more so then being told the truth . If u can’t be honest then be nothing.maybe u should be lied to , then u would have someplace to speak from . A lie can cancel everything. Having dementia is not being brainless it’s having less brain. How can u say Lying is a good way not to disappoint or to handle an old person, how do u think they got so old and for what purpose? There is so much more to understand and lying is not the way !
    Being dishonest in any form is bad for everyone and anyone.
    U condone it , u say it’s ok to be dishonest to someone who is old.
    For those of u who agree with this, I hope to never come across u. U r dispecable! U can pass along the direspect , blame it on someone else, but God knows who u r !

    • Reply July 25, 2019


      Someone with dementia who has significant damage to their brain is not the same as a person with full cognitive capabilities. Therapeutic fibbing can be a tough concept to understand if you haven’t taken care of someone with dementia who repeatedly asks the same questions and where truthful answers make them very upset.

      If that happened multiple times a day, every day, it’s likely that you’d soon be looking for alternative responses that don’t cause them pain and distress. There isn’t one solution that works for every person in every situation, but it helps to have multiple tools to experiment with.

      • Reply August 12, 2019


        Therapeutic fibbing is a very helpful tool. I would love to be able to just tell them the truth and have them work through the grief, but that is not the case. You would have to tell them over and over and over and each time would be like it was the first time. Very sad. When I simply say, ” I just spoke to your mom and she said she would be here tomorrow.” I get a smile, happiness, and we are able to move on with the day.

        • Reply August 12, 2019


          That’s a kind, lovely response that helps someone feel heard and comforted 💜 Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply August 9, 2019


      You have interpreted this the wrong way. Have you ever worked with or been around someone with dimentia? You do briefly have to step in to their world and then figure out what triggers are there to lead them out of the confusion that are wrapped in. If someone confronts them with honesty, then many of those with dimentia will quickly get agitated, angry, irritated. In a flash this can happen. And the next steps are crucial b/c they could hurt themselves in the process. No one is saying to simply lie to them. Take a deep breath and think this through. They are showing you how to “gently bring them back to a safe point’ of discussion and in to reality. Your anger sounds a bit more like you have been hurt by someone in your past with lies. And for that I am sorry. But not everyone out there is trying to hurt someone or abuse someone. You are a very special person and do not deserve the disrespect you’ve been given. But, you alone, are responsible for the amount of joy you take in, or give away. Don’t give it away. And possibly take your passion and put it in to caring for someone that just may need that passion. Take care.

    • Reply August 13, 2019


      Just wow. We all know lying is wrong, but if you spend time with somebody who has cognitive problems and you insist on total, unvarnished truth all the time, you will find yourself in a never-ending cycle of crying, anger, arguing, more crying, fear, anger, etc. My mother was adamant that she had been taken during the night to a place that looked exactly like her residence but wasnt. My brother insisted it never happened. It was as real to her as if it had happened, but he argued, she cried, was still agitated and crying the next day. All he had to say was that he’s so glad she came back and that he will talk to the director about it. Mama’s happy, no harm, no foul. So ease down off that high horse until you’ve shuffled a mile in our shoes.

  • Reply July 23, 2019


    What about if they’re accusing you stealing from them? How do you handle that, knowing it’s not true?

  • Reply July 22, 2019


    I have to agree with some commenters above that “fibbing” is not a constructive solution. I’ll often get questions from my mother like “Where’s my dad?” or “Where’s my Grandma?” It’s true, we need to avoid harsh, dismissive answers like “Oh, they’re long dead.” But reinforcing a delusion like that does not help, in my opinion. I find gentle deflection to be the most useful, like “Hmm, you know, I’m not sure about that right now but how about we figure it out after breakfast.” It’s still a bend in the truth, but not an outright falsehood that might raise false hopes for them, even temporarily.

    There may yet come a day when any attempt at reasoning or distraction is futile. Then perhaps the lie becomes the only option. But I would treat it as a last resort.

    • Reply July 22, 2019


      Absolutely, this is a technique that people can learn about and keep in their toolbox to use as they see fit. Because care techniques don’t always work in every situation or for every person, it’s helpful to be aware of different options to experiment with.

    • Reply August 13, 2019


      My mother told us that our daddy, dead 5 years, was spending the night every night. He slipped in at shift change and slipped back out before light. We just told her to please let him know we’d love to see him, too, if he could drop by. That’s the truth! (But it would be scary.)

      • Reply August 13, 2019


        That’s a wonderful response 💜

        • Reply April 8, 2020


          My mother does this as well, only with a disturbing twist. She insists that my father (5 years gone) comes and goes. She makes food for him from her mini-fridge and gets very upset when he doesn’t come home. She will often refuse to go to meals because she’s waiting for him. It’s sometimes impossible to redirect her. She’ll wait for hours. There is a large portrait of my dad hanging in her room. It’s probably silly of me to think this, but is it possible that this picture is confusing her?

          • April 9, 2020


            It’s great that you do your best to validate and distract her. It’s a good guess that the large portrait may be reminding her of your dad and potentially triggering this behavior. You might want to try removing it or replacing it with something that isn’t likely to bring up upsetting memories.

  • Reply June 27, 2019


    My mom is 92, has moderate dementia but can appear lucid.. yet forgets what you tell her in 10 minutes..She also has very fragile bones(5 broken bones in 7 years caused by Osteoporosis )and Mom being non-stop and OCD about cleaning was impossible to control… She overdoes and gets angry if anyone suggests she’s got fragile bones. Mom is 92 and hates us for putting her into a nursing home .She calls us constantly saying she is fine and How could you do this to me?.She curses us out and tells us she’s fine and we’re horrible children. It hurts because her stubborn behavior caused her to be far from us.She refused to move or travel(even if we suggested we go together) The phone calls make me feel horrible,guilty and sad.I can’t have a relationship when she treats us(my brother and I) so awful…we’re a loving family. I don’t know what to say to her anymore. We had to give up her apartment as she is in the nursing home ..She keeps asking about the apartment.We tried telling the truth.She threw a fit..then calmed down.We took her out for lunch-had a great day with her then the next day it’s complete hell and being disinherited. I know its the dementia talking but it’s rough.

    • Reply August 3, 2019


      So sorry this is happening, it’s certainly a tough situation when someone with dementia is angry about necessary changes to their life. Since telling the truth about her apartment is making her angry, it may help to avoid direct answers. For example, you could encourage her to reminisce about living there (ask “what did you like most about the apartment?”), or fib and say that it’s being fumigated/painted/under construction.

  • Reply May 6, 2019

    omar nuri

    My 93 years old Mom had Alzheimer while living in California in a nursing home. Whenever I went to visit her, I realized that she was saying things like : open this fridge and bring some fruit(pointing to a door in her room, there was no fridge!) or: Here is the King’s storage room! while I was smiling, I always agreed with her and played along. Some time my elder Brother and/sister who were also there, were disagreeing with my actions, and they actually told her that what she was saying was not true. I could remember the agitation in her facial features.
    After reading here that what I did was the right thing to do, made me happy that I made my Mom happy, even I had no idea what I was doing. I guess my thought was that why oppose and agitate her. Thank you for all the information.

    • Reply July 28, 2019


      It’s wonderful that you were able to go along with your mom’s reality and help her feel happy 💜💜 We’re so glad this article is helpful.

  • Reply January 15, 2019

    Francey Jesson

    This is wonderfully affirming. I only wish I’d known about therapeutic fibbing from the get go. But I’ll be sharing this on all my social media platforms because I think the more you know ahead of time, the better. Others can benefit from, “what I didn’t know then.” Thank you for all that you do.

  • Reply November 2, 2018


    I commend all of the caregivers tremendously for taking care of their patients with dementia. I understand that that task may not be easy most of the time, especially since communication and comprehensive skills may not be the same since the diagnosis of dementia. I would also like to say that I believe that your hearts and research may be in the right place in wanting to help others with dementia to the best of your abilities including lying to patients in hopes that this will be what is best. However, I do not believe this is always the best way to go about helping these patients without further information. I do not say this to insult but to enlighten you about the concepts of capacity. Capacity is determined by a physician. There are certain criteria that must be met in order for a physician to determine if someone has capacity. This includes that the patient is able to make and communicate a choice, the decisions are consistent with the patient’s values and goals, decisions are not from a delusion, and the patient is able to use reasoning to make a choice. Additionally, the patient must be able to understand their medical situation, prognosis, nature of recommended care, and alternative treatments along with the associated risks and benefits. The reason I wanted to discuss capacity was because I wonder if all patients with dementia are considered to no longer have medical capacity. In other words, one patient may still be able to meet the criteria to be labeled to have medical capacity, and I wonder if not telling them the truth about the condition is necessarily the right choice. Also, I understand that some patients may have a financial fiduciary due to the fact that they are unable to take care of their finances, but this does not necessarily mean that they do not have medical capacity. The legal consensus is that if a patient is able to provide informed consent then they have medical capacity. I believe you may be able to discuss with the patients’ physicians to determine if your specific patient has medical capacity or not, and you may be able to use that information to better help guide you when treating your patient at their home.

    • Reply November 7, 2018


      Thank you for sharing! Each person with Alzheimer’s or dementia is certainly different and will be at a different stage in the disease.

      Each family or caregiver needs to choose for themselves how they want to approach these important issues in the way that works best for their specific situation.

      For some, it may work well to explain everything to their older adult with dementia and get their input. For others, they may need to keep them feeling safe and secure and take over the decision making.

  • Reply November 2, 2018

    Arthur Webb

    I commend all of the caregivers tremendously for taking care of their patients with dementia. I understand that that task may not be easy most of the time, especially since communication and comprehensive skills may not be the same since the diagnosis of dementia. I would also like to say that I believe that your hearts and research may be in the right place in wanting to help others with dementia to the best of your abilities including lying to patients in hopes that this will be what is best. However, I do not believe this is always the best way to go about helping these patients without further information. I do not say this to insult but to enlighten you about the concepts of capacity. Capacity is determined by a physician. There are certain criteria that must be met in order for a physician to determine if someone has capacity. This includes that the patient is able to make and communicate a choice, the decisions are consistent with the patient’s values and goals, decisions are not from a delusion, and the patient is able to use reasoning to make a choice. Additionally, the patient must be able to understand their medical situation, prognosis, nature of recommended care, and alternative treatments along with the associated risks and benefits. The reason I wanted to discuss capacity was because I wonder if all patients with dementia are considered to no longer have medical capacity. In other words, one patient may still be able to meet the criteria to be labeled to have medical capacity, and I wonder if not telling them the truth about the condition is necessarily the right choice. Also, I understand that some patients may have a financial fiduciary due to the fact that they are unable to take care of their finances, but this does not necessarily mean that they do not have medical capacity. The legal consensus is that if a patient is able to provide informed consent then they have medical capacity. I believe you may be able to discuss with the patients’ physicians to determine if your specific patient has medical capacity or not, and you may be able to use that information to better help guide you when treating your patient at their home.

    • Reply November 12, 2018


      THIS! This is what I’m struggling with, just didn’t know it was called capacity. Because here’s my dilemma with my mom that l can’t see a way around. She’s a VA patient first of all, if that’s even relevant, but she’s been diagnosed with “mild dementia”. It’s going to progress. But at what point do her care choices fall to another person – namely me or my dad – because she’s in complete denial and we can’t get her any help because SHE has to ask for it. So FRUSTRATING. It’s like we have to wait for something catastrophic to happen. Her paranoia is worsening as is her shadowing of my dad, and he’s stuck because she’s still in charge of her own care.

  • Reply May 17, 2018


    A question, I often read of the importance of a support group for caregivers. How do you join a support group if you cannot leave the person you are caring for?
    I am my mother’s only care giver, even when she is asleep she wants me nearby as she wakes often and is frightened when left alone.

    • Reply May 17, 2018


      That’s a great question. There are many caregivers who aren’t able to leave their older adult alone and can’t get someone to cover for them on a regular basis. In that case, I’d recommend checking out online caregiver support groups. In some ways, it’s even better because they’re available 24/7, anytime you have time. Here are some of our top recommendations —

    • Reply June 3, 2018


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      • Reply June 6, 2018


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    • Reply November 27, 2018


      They need to start giving patients with dementia and/or Alz ANY drug that will help them with their immediate need, i.e., xanax, pain medicine or what have you. Caregivers should NEVER be put on the spot where we have to call Hospice to get the patient comfort. The doctors need to either open their eyes or quit practicing medicine. I’m so freaking tired of ‘try this anti-psychotic or that one’…. it takes up to 6 weeks for that to even help. And that’s IF they make it that long.

    • Reply February 6, 2020


      I joined the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers Group through Facebook. Wonderful, loving support without leaving home.

      • Reply February 8, 2020


        So glad you found this wonderful source of support!

  • Reply March 16, 2018

    Amy K.

    My mom is 89 and has had some vascular dementia from strokes. She had a raging UTI a couple of months ago. It was treated, then came roaring back. She was in the hospital and is now in rehab. It looks like we aren’t going to be able to take her home. It’s just not an option.
    So far, I’ve told her if the therapy goes well, we can talk about her going home. She said several times she was going home on such and such a date, and when she gets it in her mind she is, there’s no dissuading her from the idea. About three times, she’s said, “I’m going home TODAY!” as soon as I get to her room. I try to say, no, she still needs more therapy, but she won’t let it go. She curses and yells and cries. I know it’s got to be frustrating and scary for her. I try to be sympathetic and not let my anxiety get the better of me, but it has a few times, and we’ve ended up yelling at each other, much to my regret.
    How in the world do I tell her she’s not going home? I don’t feel guilty about the decision for long-term care. That’s the best, most appropriate place for her at this point. I’ve agonized over this and I need some pointers. Thank you.

  • Reply January 10, 2018


    My mother has always been, shall we say, unusual all of her life. If she did not like reality, she would just ignore it. Doctors have suggested she see a psychiatrist at their peril. For a good 20 or 30 years, she has argued that we are crazy, not her. My father is dead and my brother and I are not close to her.

    We took her to a neurologist but mom told us that the neuro told her privately that she (neuro) was really a psychiatrist who could not get a job, so she is masquerading as a neuro. She will not go back and there is no making her.

    Now, at 93, she has dementia and all she does is scream. By scream, I do mean at the top of her lungs. She screams about anything and everything, which is pretty much what my childhood was like. She screams about money, her invisible boyfriend, my brother, or me and it goes on and on and on.

    It really does not matter whether we go along (yes, you should marry your invisible fiancee) or tell her the truth (no, there simply is no more money) – she just screams. It is dreadful.

    • Reply January 20, 2018


      Lynn — I’m so sorry this is happening, it sounds like a very challenging situation. It sounds she’s in distress or discomfort, but clearly can’t articulate her needs. It sounds like she needs extra help from a doctor who’s experienced in treating people with dementia. Since she refuses to go to see a doctor, you may want to consider a geriatrician who makes home visits — someone who specializes in tough dementia cases. Explain the situation to them before they visit. They may be able to approach her in a way that doesn’t make it seem like she’s seeing a doctor. It’s possible that carefully experimenting with low doses of specific behavioral medications could improve the situation.

  • Reply December 27, 2017


    I’m not a caregiver but a newly diagnosed patient standing on the edge of what appears to be a nightmare. I’m so very sad for my husband and children and siblings. This is going to strain some relationships that are already not the best. I’ve already lost my driving privilege and it has been a horrible experience. I sorta wish I was less “with it” so I wouldn’t feel the loss so keenly. We live out in the country, where I am home all day alone with the goats, chickens and 5dogs. Both my husband and daughter work and at this point I understand the suggestion of not cooking (almost caught kitchen on fire). I’m scared of the future described here by so many caregivers.

    • Reply January 3, 2018


      I’m so sorry about your diagnosis Valarie 🙁 It’s great that you understand that your husband and daughter are looking out for your best interests by not having you cook any longer. Even though dementia is a very challenging health condition, there are still ways to enjoy as many moments as possible. Having discussions now with your family to let them know your wishes for quality of life goals and sharing your experience to help them understand can help you and them cope with the changes.

      You may also find it helpful to attend a support group for people with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association may be able to tell you about ones in your area, call them at 1-800-272-3900

      Your family may also want to start learning as much as they can about dementia symptoms and how to support and care for you. We’ve got an extensive library of articles about dementia here — They may also find the extensive local and online resources at the Alzheimer’s Association helpful — or 1-800-272-3900

    • Reply January 16, 2018

      Michelle Barkley

      It must be so scary to know your diagnosis and what the future maybe bringing to you. As a caregiver, I would like to ask, how should we, “as future caregivers”, treat you when the diagnosis is so new? What would you like to talk about? About the disease, or treatments, or what your wishes are as the disease progresses? You would be a great resource for all of us! Your words are gold, I wish I had that knowledge when my mother was first starting to show signs and we didn’t know what it was. No doctor had diagnosed, so we were only guessing. It would be wonderful to know what you are thinking, how we could help the best now and in the future. Prayers for you and your family. I pray that you are able to talk with them and let them know early on what your wishes are.

  • Reply November 26, 2017

    Fern Whitaker

    Wondering how to handle this situation with my 92 year old mother with dementia. She doesn’t realize I am her daughter at times and will talk to me about me. I am an only child and she will talk about where her daughter lives, works, etc. I will play along but then the conversation usually takes this turn – she wants to know who I am and there has been times if I said my name to her she would get very confused or even agitated. I have an uncommon name so it would be hard to play off as having the same name as her daughter. I don’t know how to handle this question without upsetting her.

    • Reply December 5, 2017


      I can see the challenge in this situation. It’s great that you go along with the conversation, it sounds like it makes her happy to speak about you. To avoid upsetting her, you could consider calling yourself by another name on these occasions. Or, you could try saying something like “What a coincidence, I have the same name as your daughter.” It may take a little trial and error to find what works best.

  • Reply November 3, 2017


    I have to get my comment in about lying to people with dementia. You say it is okay.
    Mom is gone now but she was living with me and always asking where dad was. I usually explained that he had passed away some time back and she seemed to accept that. One day I decided I was going to tell her he was just outside and I did. Some time later she came to me and screamed at me “you lied to me!” I can’t tell you how bad I felt. I am crying now thinking about it. It is hard to know the right thing to do.

    • Reply November 5, 2017


      I’m so sorry that happened. It can be so tough to know what the right thing is and sometimes the only way to find out is by experimenting to see what works best. Each person with dementia is unique and will respond in different ways — and their behavior and reactions may change, like what happened with you. It’s up to each caregiver to decide which response to use for that specific situation. It won’t always work out the way you hoped, but you always know that you’re doing your best in a difficult and unpredictable situation. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers and no solutions that will work 100% of the time for everyone.

    • Reply October 26, 2018


      Lying to someone with brain issues shouldn’t be done.This is about the worst advice I have ever seen given in my life time.It should only be done as a last resort and used sparingly.Its one thing to smooth something over, its another to outright lie about something.Especially as important as her spouse being dead.if she could handle that then why lie to her?The best answer is to tell the truth softly but clearly.Only if the patient is very near the end of life and truly hopeless should lies be told to them.It only makes them feel helpless and betrayed.Especially if they are having good days they remember and know that you lied to them.Think they want you to care for them after that not a chance

      • Reply October 26, 2018


        Therapeutic fibbing is one of many options that people can use when caring for someone with dementia. The decision to fib or stick to potentially hurtful truths rests with the person who is caring for someone with dementia. They’re the only ones who are qualified to make the decision and they are the ones who will be handling the situation and the aftermath.

        How to respond to someone’s questions really depends on their personality and the stage of their cognitive decline. There are many situations where the person can no longer process complex feelings like grief and loss and also are prone to forgetting and then repeating questions. When that happens, telling them the truth about sensitive topics (for example: someone’s death) can only cause distress without bringing any closure. And then, the whole thing can happen again within hours or days, causing the person with dementia repeated sadness or distress. In these cases, it can be kinder to tell a simple fib about the person being away for a short time or busy with work — whatever would make sense to them.

        For some families, there is nothing else except going along with their reality (by telling fibs) that will work to keep the person with dementia feeling calm and safe.

  • Reply October 5, 2017

    Kim Eaton

    My husband has Dementia has not been diagnosed but I am his caregiver, I gave him my word that I would keep him at home, so that is what I am doing. I read everyone’s questions and my life is so different, my hubby has not spoke for almost two years, he sometimes follows instructions sometimes not. I do everything for him. He is almost to the point if not feeding himself, he can do finger foods, but anything else I have to feed him. I guess when I read all if these post/questions I wonder if anyone else has a loved one that does not talk etc.

  • Reply August 26, 2017

    Janet Gmyr

    My mother is 98 and is living with my sister. She has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but did seem to be suffering from Sundowners and some dementia. She has chronic UTI’s which have caused altered mental state. It seems like in the last 6 months she has not recovered her previous mental state. She dreams every night of being in the cemetery looking for family members. She has lost 6 children and asks daily if one of them has called. I now just tell her no, rather than remind her they have passed. But night time is very hard. She wakes up and calls for help throughout the night. It’s very hard watching a parent go through this.

    • Reply August 28, 2017


      I’m so sorry this is happening 🙁 It might be helpful to have a full evaluation done by her doctor to see if there are treatable conditions that are causing her dementia-like symptoms. Plus, they may be able to recommend ways to improve her UTI situation so she won’t keep getting them. UTIs can definitely cause mental and behavioral changes instead of the symptoms that younger people usually experience. It’s great that you’re able to give her a kind answer to her question about children who have passed, it’s wonderful to help her avoid going through the pain of their loss over and over again. For the night time, perhaps creating a soothing environment would help her sleep better? You could experiment with aromatherapy and/or soothing music to see if it could help. More info here: and

  • Reply August 4, 2017

    Eileen Grover

    I have a 50 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with CADASIL. Rare genetic brain disorder of strokes deep in the brain. She is in early stage dementia. I would like to know if anyone is aware of groups for this type of illness where she could go for recreation or just someone to relate to. She has a doctorate in psychology but had to give up her job. I try to keep her occupied by taking her on errands and social events with me but she needs her own friends. She moved to California from Philadelphia 20 years ago and even though she kept in touch with a few, their lives have gone in different directions. Has anyone else dealt with this situation and how did you handle it?

    • Reply August 5, 2017


      Hi Eileen — I’m so sorry about your daughter’s condition. It’s wonderful that she has you to look out for her best interests and to help her live as full and happy a life as possible.

      We found a couple of websites for people affected by CADASIL. This one has links to a variety of CADASIL support groups on Facebook, for her and for you —

      This site has additional information about support groups for both patients and caregivers —

      I hope some of these groups will be a good place for your daughter (and you) to get support and find people going through similar challenges ❤

  • Reply July 20, 2017


    I’m devastated. I’ve read the article and the comments. I understand intellectually what you’re saying…My Mum is in an Aged Care facility in our old home town in QLD. (boring, unsophisticated, narrow – but more importantly AFFORDABLE for her) I am (her daughter and only relative who gives a *** at all! – but who lives in another country now:( So my ability to be with her is pretty limited. I take care of her business etc though and can do that from here mostly. I had to move her a year and a half ago from Sydney back there and found a lovely Retirement Unit – a step up in quality from her apt. in Sydney(!) that she could afford. I thought her sister and nieces in our old hometown would step up and at least visit with her once in a while…but they only abused me and accused me of being a “criminal” and of “elder abuse” in spite of my constant contact with her Home Care Supervisors and Assessors stating she was doing well with an active life etc etc… They had decided that they knew best and she should go straight into a 24/7 facility – but I knew she could have a little more time to live independently…- long story…anyway – after a year and a 1/4 of her Dementia becoming more progressed, I realized on my trip out that she could then, finally, no longer cope alone – even with Home Care and Meals On Wheels…. – I had to (after NO CRISES by the way!!!) move her into a Residence. I timed it perfectly, if I say so myself:) But NOW – every time I call her after only a few months there she “lets me know” she can’t stay there – she’s decided she has to move back to Sydney (the life of her dreams – sophisticated Sydney – friends, theatre, beauty, adventure…) I totally get it. She had made a wonderful life there and the surroundings for her now must be dull and lonely. I’ve a couple of times explained that even if I could move her back there in spite of cost – she could no longer just venture out on her own without an escort ($$$$)…it breaks my heart and I realize I just leave her feeling depressed…Do I really have to lie now to that extent? I guess I’m answering my own question, huh? How to do it? Do I say, “You know, I’ll do some research on suitable Residences for you Mum…I’ll look into it…? And try to leave it there? She’s got spunk, my Mum – she won’t let it go….I so appreciate that I stumbled across this page. I’ve read the whole page with much appreciation. Any help you can offer me in ways to field this “decision” she’s made, would be most appreciated. xo

    • Reply July 24, 2017


      I’m so sorry you’re going through this 💔 It’s so tough to care for someone who is far away, but needs a lot of help. I think that therapeutic lies and validating her thoughts is an important part of making her feel like you’re listening and taking her seriously. It can be tough to do and to accept, but it gets easier with practice and time to come to terms with it. Asking to go home is a common thing we hear from people with dementia. We’ve got an article with suggested responses — and another that explains what someone might mean when they say those words (may or may not apply to your mom, but may help you understand) —

    • Reply March 27, 2018


      Becca, I read recently about the use of VR headsets in Aged care. People can ‘travel’ to other places and enjoy themselves in favourite areas. I wonder if something like this would be good for your mum to ‘visit Syndey’. They are expensive I know, but some aged care places have them. Perhaps you could ask at hers? Just a thought. Another idea might be to do an album of photos from when she was in Sydney and the events she went to for her to reminise about. You could also find some DVDs of some of her favourite performances for her to watch and feel special.
      All the best

  • Reply June 4, 2017


    It’s hard to go to their reality when they are trying to stab you with scissors or throwing fireplace logs at my father! And the doctor says nothing is wrong…..I try creative truths and distractions when I can, but I need to keep him and me safe!

    • Reply June 5, 2017

      Yikes! When violence is present, it’s a different situation that requires stronger intervention. It will help to immediately remove and lock up any sharp objects or anything that could be used as a weapon. The top priority is safety for the person with dementia, the family, and any hired caregivers. If this doctor isn’t helpful, I’d recommend finding a different doctor who is more experienced in treating dementia. Things are clearly not ok and it’s important to find a solution before someone gets hurt — that could mean carefully experimenting with behavioral medication or even a move to a memory care community.

      • Reply January 17, 2018

        Tammy O.

        Carol, I finally had to find a doctor that specializes with elderly patients. Their needs are obviously different, and a Dr. with these specializatons are likely to have a lot more experience with unual cifrcumstances.
        When looking for another doctor, I specifically asked for what I needed. Amazingly enough, my dad has thrived with this new one. He put my dad on an ssri (depression meds), in addition to meds for dementia. PLease find a doctor that will support you. Remember, they work for us, not the other way around.
        Do you have power of attorney over your mother? If not, check into it. It was a life saver fro me a I as able to make decisions that my father could no longer make for himself.

  • Reply June 3, 2017

    linda cywin

    I am taking care of a person with early onset dementia from a attempted suicide 4 years ago. I think it has progressed she has called cps and the police on my father saying that he mistreats her(he does not he actually goes the other way he does too much for her). Emma displays many of the symptoms of lying, aggression, some times it looks like she fakes it because she will do this in front of my dad or other males but not in front of me or my sister. Is that something emma does to get attention or are we right in thinking she can control it and chooses to do it front of men as apossed to women. I want to the right thing for her but don’t know what it is when i think i have done the right thing it turns out not to be the right thing. Emma has alot fustration with my sister who has tried to help her she seems genuielly grateful but than she gets upset and calls my sister a bitch my sister as a result has stepped back from things because she has opened her heart to help and the same results happen. Emma responds to me positve so i have taken back some of her care. Emma has been baker acted several times because of threats of suicide and she can get physically violent with both herself and others. At this present time i have my plate full as i am also caring for my aging father and my sister who has cancer i just need alittle advice and help so that all the people i am caring for goes smoothly sorry for the rant but i would love some information reguarding what i should do for emma and a result my family who benefits when emma is doing well.

    • Reply June 4, 2017

      This is a tough situation. It’s great that you’re taking such good care of Emma, despite the challenges. There could be many factors that influence her behavior. Since she had attempted suicide before, it’s likely that she has unresolved mental illness that is not helping the situation. Dementia symptoms plus mental illness is a tough combination. She’s most likely not doing these things on purpose — dementia is likely the cause. She could be afraid of men, which is why the behavior happens when men are caring for her, but not with you or your sister. Or it could be that she just feels more comfortable with the two of you. She could be getting upset for many reasons, like if she’s in pain, uncomfortable, hungry, needs to use the toilet, etc.

      It sounds like she may need help from a doctor who is experienced in tough dementia cases. She may need some medication to help her with the mental issues + dementia symptoms, but this takes careful experimentation to find out if specific medications could help or if they make the situation worse. If her violent behavior is endangering herself or you and your family, the safest thing may be to move her to a memory care community where they’re better equipped to care for her. Safety is the most important thing.

      You’ve got a lot on your plate caring for your dad and your sister too. I hope you can get some help so you can make sure to take care of yourself too 💜

      These articles may be helpful in understanding and reducing the difficult behavior:

      • Reply January 17, 2018

        Tammy O.

        First, When the police have to get involved, you have a problem. I would check into installing something that videos inside the home. At least you would have some kind of proof before you haveto explain her condition.
        My dad loses everything, which causes anxiety for everyone, and my brother has mentioned it. You can actually get something like that from your phone company for a minimal cost.
        Then, you need to find a doctor that specializes in these types of dementias (what it sounds like). My dad was put on medication for anxiety and has thrived. Please let us know how you are!

  • Reply May 30, 2017

    Mona Wilson

    My mother in law moved in with us last August when she could no longer care for herself. She has good days and bad days as well as sundowners. I see progression and we visit the Dr on a regular basis so we have meds up to date. When we have visitors she does better and seems to be more herself. For this reason we send her to daycare five days a week. I’ve tried to explain to her children that this is how to treat her but they don’t remember and just say what they like. any sugestions?

    • Reply May 30, 2017

      It sound like you’re doing a wonderful job finding ways to keep your mother-in-law happy, engaged in life, and safe. I’m sorry to hear that her children aren’t trying to learn about her disease and the best ways to interact with her. They may be in denial about her declining health and cognitive abilities. This article has suggestions to help you deal with family members who are in denial —

  • Reply May 30, 2017


    My 89 y.o. Mother has dementia and we recently had her license revoked. She was fiercely independent to that point and has not taken the loss of her DL very well. It’s been almost two months and she still constantly calls me and my siblings demanding to have her car returned. She threatens to call the police but cannot find the number. She has also threatened to discontinue her meds and refuses to go to her doctor because he was the one who signed the revocation papers. She refuses to have any of us take her places became she wants to drive herself. She also lies to her caregiver who comes in 2 hrs per day saying she can take care of herself and her home…which she cannot.
    When she calls asking where her car is, we acknowledge her anger and then tell her that the car has been sold. We then just say we are not going to talk about the car anymore and try to change the subject which does not always work. She continues to be very angry. Any suggestions?

    • Reply May 30, 2017

      I’m so sorry to hear about what’s happening. It sounds like your mother is having a hard time dealing with the big changes happening in her brain and in her lifestyle. It’s hard to lose the independence that driving provides on top of everything else. It’s great to acknowledge her anger and let her vent. The dementia probably makes it difficult for her to process and come to terms with what’s happening. It’s very common for people in the earlier stages of dementia to insist that they don’t need help. Helping her cope will probably take extra time and a lot of patience on your part.

      It might help to arrange other ways for her to get around so she doesn’t feel stranded. Here are some tips on finding alternative transportation options —

      This article might be helpful too —

  • Reply April 28, 2017

    Bonnie Duncan

    This is an excellent website and resource for all of us caught in this nasty web of a disease. My Mother, lost her Husband 4 months ago. She had spent the last 30 years taking care of her Husband who had suffered two strokes and a brain bleed. His first strokes were in 1981 and 6 years ago was the brain bleed. He was mentally sound, but he was physically unable to walk for the last couple of years and could help transfer him self. He was the mental being and Mom was the Physical. It was so hard to see them struggle AND refuse to have help until the very end.

    • Reply April 29, 2017


      I’m so glad our articles are helpful. It sounds like your mom took wonderful care of her husband. I hope her own health hasn’t suffered too much.

  • Reply March 11, 2017

    Elaine Mawhinney

    Do you think this still applies when the person is believing something untrue and is already distressed about it? I happily agree with my Mum when she tells me that she’s had her handbag since she started work (75 years ago). However, when she starts telling me that her deceased husband (my father) is out happily carousing, I can’t go along with her and allow her to continue believing that and being continually upset. My strategy has been to gently tell her that Dad is happy because he is in heaven and she has nothing to worry about, then change the subject. Seems to work. I’m not game to enter that reality with her. What do you think?

    • Reply March 11, 2017


      I think the number one priority is to help someone with dementia feel as happy and safe as possible. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing because your response is working well. When her version of reality is causing distress, you’re right to try to redirect her to happier thoughts.

  • Reply February 22, 2017


    Similar to the example you gave, in the latter stages of the disease, my 90 year old mom would search her building for the way out telling us that school was done and her parents were coming to pick her up. She also tried to call them on her phone (which she could no longer figure out other than to hold the handset). At first, if I explained reality to her, it resulted in a lot of emotions and I quickly stopped. I had a really hard time telling her an outright lie though. So, I ended up telling her that her parents were both “out of town” (heaven is out of town, right?) and that they knew she was safe with us (me and building staff) until they got back. Then I suggested something we could do together. She accepted that answer and we would work on a craft project together which was always calming for her. Sometimes she would worry about where she would sleep while her parents were away and I ended up telling her they had a nice room here (in her building) as though it was a hotel (she and my dad did a lot of traveling in the past).

    • Reply February 22, 2017


      Those are such wonderful and kind ways to respond to your mom’s needs and worries! It sounds like she was able to relax and feel safe, which are the top goals 🙂

  • Reply February 21, 2017


    My mom might be in the early stages – she reminds us every time of the spot where she used to pick up my granddaughter for school every time we go by there (an example) and it gets old fast. She constantly wants attention and will even lie to relatives about how she’s being mistreated which has gotten APS called on us three times already – only to have them tell her she’s lucky she has us. How do I respond to her attention-seeking and constant reminders of things she doesn’t seem to want US to forget?

  • Reply November 16, 2016


    My mom had Alzheimers. It would help when we would play music from her era. It seemed to calm her down if she started to get irritated. I would also bring in pictures of her when she was little and she would go on for hours with stories. After she passed, my dad started with it. He would have difficulty remembering that she passed and would ask for her. I would have to tell little lies like “mom is taking a nap but she said to give you a kiss on the cheek for her” or “she’s getting her hair done and she’ll be in shortly but only if you eat your lunch and take a nap”, etc. Anything that would distract him and keep him calm.

    • Reply November 16, 2016


      You are amazing! These are such wonderful things to say that made your mom and dad feel happy, safe, and loved. Thank you for sharing these tips!

  • Reply October 31, 2016

    Marathon John D Gaffney

    I think ALZ patients can see RIGHT through the caregivers;We give them less credit then they deserve/get even though they still have their long-term memory in tact!!!

    • Reply November 1, 2016


      In the early stages, someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is still able to use logic and reason. That’s not the right time to use these suggestions. It really depends on how far their condition has progressed. These ideas are better suited to the time when a person with dementia has been significantly affected, has poor short term memory, and primarily needs to feel validated and safe. Alzheimer’s and dementia affect much more than just memory. These conditions attack the brain itself and erode the connections and pathways that are essential for proper brain function. Even if someone has their long term memories deep inside them, it won’t help their day-to-day function.

  • Reply August 31, 2016


    My mother has Alzheimer’s. We like to call it ‘creative truths’. When she asks about her parents. We tell her they are in the town they are buried. (Not that they are deceased) She accepts that and moves on. She also comments that she is sure her mother is NOT happy about being there. lol! Choose to smile!

    • Reply August 31, 2016


      “Creative truths” — love it! It’s wonderful that you’ve found a calm, reassuring way to answer a tough question.

  • Reply May 28, 2016


    I look,forward to your daily tips

    • Reply May 28, 2016


      Thanks Cheryl! We’re so glad you find them helpful.

      • Reply January 11, 2021

        Noel Rosney

        Thank you for the many helpful tips particularly on Dementia. I cared for a close family relative for 7 years who suffered from Dementia. Currently in Ireland there are 55,000 people suffering with Dementia & there is a huge mental strain on the families that are affected by this terrible disease, i know this from 7 years experience. Dementia was known as the silent illness, it is too common of an illness nowdays to be called the silent illness.

        • Reply January 15, 2021


          We’re so glad that our articles and suggestions have been helpful! It’s wonderful that you were able to care for your relative with dementia. It’s an incredibly challenging role and a devastating disease for all involved.

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