Dementia Couch Conversations: Joining their reality v.s. lying
I’m gonna give you an example. Somebody (with dementia) says “I want to call my husband.”
We know that their husband is not alive and he died 10 years ago. Well, that person with dementia is now wanting to call him. Lying to them looks a lot like: “you know what let’s give him a call.” (Pick up a phone, pretend to call him). “Oh, he didn’t answer, but he’ll be here later.” Embracing their reality would require you understanding a little bit more about their reality: Why do they want to talk to their husband? So, asking those questions: “Why do you want to call him?” Sometimes you will find that the person with dementia is aware that the person has died and they may say “you know, I just miss his voice and ever since he died I’ve always wanted to talk to him. I really wish I could.” Well, now we know that that person’s reality is not what we initially thought that it was so we’re not making assumptions.
Another example is when somebody is having a hallucination.
It would be lying to start to act things out in order to fix that hallucination. If somebody says that there’s a fire pretending to put the fire out with water. Or, if somebody says that there’s a dog and we walk over and start petting the dog, we haven’t actually understood their reality to the full extent. So, by lying and inserting ourselves into what we believe it is, we’re actually breaking down trust and doing it a disservice to the care relationship.