Advice for someone worried about bending the truth to avoid unnecessary distress for a person with dementia

Talking Point members’ advice for someone feeling bad about telling ‘love lies’ to a person with dementia.

We asked members of Talking Point for their tips for someone worried about bending the truth to avoid unnecessary distress for a relative or friend who has dementia.

Talking Point is a helpful community that’s free and open 24/7, where anyone who’s affected by dementia can get valuable support online.

Sarasa says,

‘When Mum asked if I’d seen her parents lately, I replied not very recently but they were fine when I did. Of course, her parents died 50-odd years ago, but it was true they were fine when I last saw them.’

Marler19 says,  

‘My mother does ask about phoning her mother (dead for 52 years) and the “love lie” works when I say, “Well, she’d be quite a good age now, maybe she can’t come to the phone.” 

‘We are so trained as children to think lying is wrong, but for someone who lives in the space between reality and confabulation, maybe it really does make life easier for everyone.

‘It certainly keeps my mum happier.’ 

RosettaT says,

‘I see no harm in “love lies” if they are told for the wellbeing of the person and not under the guise of cheating them or covering wrongdoings.’

Mobbin17 says, 

‘I didn’t really lie, just avoided extra details. My mum would say that her brother was the gardener at the home and asked if I’d seen him and I would say no, I must have missed him. To tell that he had died 11 years ago would mean that she lost him again and again.’ 

Lawson58 says,

‘I think the important thing about love lies is that it is a way of helping the person to stay in a stable frame of mind, as far as that is possible.

‘That form of answer reduces the amount of stress and tension in your own voice, and that is important as many people respond to the tone of the voice rather than what is actually said.’ 

Pork Pie lady says,

‘I often distract my husband by asking what he means, giving vague answers or trying to change the subject. Sometimes, when he is in the right frame of mind and says something that is clearly wrong, I can talk about his head playing tricks on him.’

taliahad says,

‘My mother needed new underwear but she will not accept anything new, so I had to lie and say that her new items were not new, she chose them herself a long time ago. It’s either that or let her go around in worn-out clothes, which her normal self would be horrified at.’ 

jennifer1967 says,

‘I think that you have to take each situation, each stage as it is then, and do what you think will work for your situation.

‘I am normally truthful with my husband but there were times I needed to be a bit secretive, with his aggression, as to what I was saying to protect me.

‘Where I could, I told him what’s happening and why.’ 

asana says,

‘I’m trying to negotiate the tightrope between speaking the truth but not being unkind or inappropriate, or – in another pitfall – making it all about me and my comfort zone rather than him.’ 

lemonbalm says,

‘Mum couldn’t be in my world, so I had to go into hers. Saying things to help make that world a kinder place never felt like lying to me.

‘It felt a bit like being in somebody’s dream – and trying to stop it becoming a nightmare.’ 

What advice would you give to someone who feels their relative or friend with dementia is ‘like a different person’ because their personality has changed?

Let us know by the end of 4 March 2022 so we can share it in our next magazine.

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My name is Tammy and I have dementia and is being hard I am getting confused I am worrying a lot and I really need this life cuz I don't know much I just know that you forget things and I want to start learning more about the disease and how I can get better and what things I need to avoid or what is there anything that I could take to help me not feel this way cuz sometimes my memory goes blank but I realize I'm upset that's when it happens can you someone please tell me how this works I have 55 years old and I'm married and I feel so confused most of the time now but I would like to hear from someone that is experiencing that or someone that has a loved one and what they do to make them feel better or even a little piece I know that there is a God and that she is both help but sometimes it's good to get advice also from people that have experienced it thank you

Hi Tammy, thanks for getting in touch.

It sounds like you would benefit from joining our online community, Talking Point, where people affected by dementia can share their experiences. You can browse the community or sign up for free here: https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/

We'd recommend calling our support line on 0333 150 3456 to speak with one of our trained dementia advisers. They will listen to you and provide specific information, advice and support that's relevant to your situation. You can find more details about the support line (including opening hours) here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-connect-support-line

In the meantime, we have publications such as The dementia guide (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/publications-factsheets/the-d…) that might be of interest to you. You can request free copies of our resources through the post: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/form/order-dementia-guide

We hope this helps for now, Tammy- and remember to call the support line on 0333 150 3456 if you need someone to talk to.

Alzheimer's Society website team

My husband has MCI, already finding things difficult. He's become argumentative several times a day, over trivial things.
He has to be right, rather controlling.

Love lies - interesting feedback but each case requires a different approach. One certainty is that any amount of reasoning to correct a false belief simply does NOT work and merely causes conflict and further confusion. - as I am finding out when my wife frequently believes me to be her father ( died over 70 years ago ) and emphatically refuses to accept she is even married to me. Gradually learning to cope the hard way but it's not easy. with someone to whom I have been married for over 65 years.

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