Caregiver for husband with dementia, writer
Dementia Fixations and White Lies
It's strange how a patient with dementia will fixate on something to the point they can drive you nuts.
Right now, Charlie's fixation is on our AAA membership.
He likes to open the mail himself; it gives him something to do and makes him feel useful. When the AAA renewal notification came he wrote on his trusty calendar that it was due to expire on a specific date. Then he handed the notice over to me to handle in the appropriate manner. In this case, it meant either notifying them to change our membership level (we have a premier membership in both our names), or merely filing it away and let it automatically renew as is.
Now here's the catch. Charlie no longer drives, so why are we paying $45.00 to have a second driver on our card?
Also, our three-year-old car has only 7000+ miles on it. So why do we need a "Premier" membership?
This was fine when we were making trips to Florida and elsewhere every year. Now it is a waste of money. We don't need towing coverage for any further than thirty miles from home and we don't need overnight accommodations while our car is broken down!
Actually, we probably don't need a membership at all. But Charlie is insistent on our maintaining our membership as is; "just in case."
I have a friend whose Alzheimer's plagued husband insisted that he had an appointment in Boston, a two-hour drive from home. He told her this day after day. She assured him that, no, he did not have an appointment in Boston. Finally, one day, out of frustration she put him in the car and headed south to Boston. After driving about twenty miles it occurred to her to tell him that she just received a phone call that cancelled the trip. She turned around and drove home and that was the last she heard about the Boston appointment.
These incidents may seem funny to those who may not have experienced something similar. But to those of us going through daily fights over ridiculous things that are causing our loved ones distress, it can be enough to make us question our own sanity.
Sometimes deceit is necessary to quell the patient's obsession with something.
Don't feel like you are being sinful in telling them a "white lie." The lie may be in their and your best interests; and I'm sure God will understand.
As for the AAA membership, I plan to call AAA while Charlie is napping, change the membership to a basic single membership, hand him his new card when it comes, and he'll never be the wiser; I hope!