Why Caregivers Lie

32 Comments

Caregivers: Have you ever lied to your elderly loved one?

If you have, you're not alone.

A whopping 73 percent of people taking care of aging family members have lied to the ones they love, according to a recent family caregiver honesty survey of over 700 AgingCare.com members. In fact, most of these men and women fib on a regular basis—43 percent admit to being untruthful at least once a week.

White lies and good intentions

What do caregivers lie about the most?

How they're really feeling.

Sixty-five percent of frequent fibbers say that they tell untruths in order to hide their real emotions from the ones they're taking care of.

It's unsurprising that the majority of caregivers feel the need to lie about what their true feelings are.

Looking after the day-to-day well-being of an elderly loved one is a grueling undertaking that can bring up a host of emotions, many of them unpleasant. Anger, guilt, resentment, grief and countless other sentiments swirl around in the mind of the caregiver, slowly draining them of energy and positive emotions.

The idea of putting a loved one's needs in front of their own means that these men and women often suffer in silence, unable to admit to how they really feel.

When talking to friends and family members, caregivers rely on the ever-popular "white lie"—an untruth told for the sake of protecting the person to whom you're lying—so often that they run the risk of convincing themselves that they feel "fine."

The one person you should always be honest with

No matter what your thoughts are on the concept of the white lie, there is one form of dishonesty that will backfire on you 100 percent of the time: lying to yourself.

Stuffing your feelings, ignoring caregiving's cumulative effect on your physical and emotional health, and neglecting to ask for help are three sure-fire ways to speed your progress down the road to caregiver burnout.

You have to be honest with yourself, recognize your own needs, and honor those needs by attending to them with the same care and compassion that you give to your loved one.

Preventing burnout is essential for caregivers. Here are a few resources that may shed some light on how you can learn to balance your loved one's needs with your own:

Also, if you're seeking to connect with a group of people that you never have to lie to about caregiving's most difficult topics, look no further than AgingCare.com Support Groups. These men and women know what it's like to live in the trenches of caregiving and can provide you with honest, understanding feedback.

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32 Comments

Ah, Sooozi, I see that your mother has chf, with no mention of dementia. That makes a difference. I want people to be honest with ME -- but that is when I am the real me. If I ever develop dementia, I hope they will be reassuring and calming, as I was with my husband and and I am with my mother, even if that means getting into their truth and abandoning mine temporarily.

When my mother spent her first weekend at my house to give my caregiving sister respite, she was terribly anxious. She wanted to know where Dad was. The truth would have been "He has been dead for 15 years, Ma." And what would that have done to her anxiety level? After I got over the shock of the question I replied, "He's spending the weekend with his poker buddies, and you and I will have Girls' Day." I kept up the charade to similar questions throughout the day. Each time she seemed satisfied. To my great relief the next day she was much less anxious and didn't bring Dad up at all. Later that day we were even able to talk about both being widows now.

I hope someone will be that kind to me if I am ever not in my right mind. But as long as I am clear-headed, please tell me the truth.

Dementia makes a huge difference.
i stop short of lying to the elder but i wont argue with their perception either. if mom sez there is someone looking in the window i simply tell her hes just being a jerk, ignore him. we dont let something like facts get us down around here. facts shmacts..
overwhelm, maybe. Depends on the parent and the relationship and past history. In some cases it might be more effective to say, "You seem to be having some problems with your memory, Mom. I think you just forgot. It is OK. I'll help you remember." My husband knew he had dementia. When I'd accompany him to appointments he'd often point to me and say, "I have dementia. She is my memory."

There really isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to "should I tell my loved one they have dementia."