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!

Marlis describes herself as a “Gramma who loves technology and has a lot to say.” She blogs about whatever catches her interest: food, books, family and more. For, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

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my mothers old 97 buick had a recall notice coming in the mail for literally years. most recalls are just a farce to cover the manufacturers shoddy work from the start or they are a fraud designed to get people and their cars into the dealership. i listened to my mom obsess over that damn recall every 30 days of my life till i finally broke. i told her im a contractor. my truck is broken. im up to my ass in broken manifold bolts and head bolts. if i ever hear about that GD buick recall again ill cram the car in the dumpster and burn it. incredibly she never mentioned it again. mom was like that. shed irritate you with something until you roared and that seemed to satisfy the attention she craved. she liked hearing a man roar i think.
ocd gets bad in the end stages of dementia tho all kiddin aside. theres times the more sane person will require a quallude and a quart of beer to keep from melting down.
I am so glad you posted this. I do things like this just to appease my Mom. Sometimes she looks at me ans asks "where's Kimmy" (which is me). I tell her - shes in her room or downstairs, then I will walk away and come back in the room and she says "there she is".
My mother fixated on her attic fan for a very long time. The fan had been replaced about 15 years ago and then stopped working. When she looked up in the attic at the fan, she insisted it wasn't hers and that someone had gone up in the attic, removed the good fan and replaced it with a broken fan. There was no reasoning with her that there wasn't an unrulely band of attic fan thieves roaming the neighborhood, swapping out fans while old ladies slept at night. I had to play my "lie" card. It's my go-to favorite. She NEVER questions anything my younger brother (baby of the family) tells her. I had him call her, suggested she ask him about it and he told her he replaced the fan years ago with the model that's up there now. End of story. Same with money. She's adamant that we can't use her money to pay her bills, so I tell her my brother pays for everything. End of that story too. Alzheimer's training said it was more than OK to tell these white lies to alleviate your loved one's stress over such topics.