I’ll NEVER Lie To My Mother! – Therapeutic Fib

Today’s insight discusses the therapeutic fib and emotional truth. Is it okay to use a “therapeutic fib”? What is “emotional truth”?

Transcription of Video:

I’m Deb Nygaard with Arthur’s Residential Care with today’s Insights from Arthur’s.

Today I want to talk about the therapeutic fib. “Do I lie to Mom or not?”

We cared for a woman one time whose adult daughter said “I will never lie to my mother; I was taught to tell the truth.” But the truth was mom felt like her husband was still alive and he’d died five years ago. And every time the daughter reminded her mother of this the poor woman had to grieve his death all over again like it was brand new. It was really devastating. It wasn’t kind.

The Alzheimer’s Association came up with a great term that I think hits it right on the head. They call it the emotional truth. The truth that you speak to your loved one with dementia is what they can handle emotionally, and what this woman wanted to do was simply talk about her husband. She loved him and she wanted to have him be a part of the conversation.

And so one thing that you could do is simply bring up a story from the past that mom would remember. “Do you remember when you and dad used to dance together? What was that like?” Or, “Say now, wasn’t the first home that you and dad had on the farm? Was it a dairy farm?  Tell me more about that.”

We cared for another woman who would ask where her husband was about every 45 seconds. And what worked for her was to know that he had gone fishing because she knew that that took some time. And if we said he was at work, that didn’t take as long and she would ask more frequently. But if he was on a fishing trip, “You know how much he likes to fish,” and she did. “Yep, he loves to fish.” And then she’d want to talk about how he’s a good man and “I love him” and she would tell us about him and so we would always ask, “What’s the best thing that you love about your husband?”

I hope these tips help you to understand a little bit more about how to converse with your loved one.

Deb Nygaard with Arthur’s Residential Care

Contact Deb Nygaard
Director of Development
Arthur’s Residential Care: 651-429-4798