How do I handle it when my 83-year-old mother tells people lies about me? She does have dementia and does get confused a lot.

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My husband and I live with my mother who has lots of health problems and she is irritable and rude mainly to me.

It's hard to hear her say things that aren't true at all. Makes you wonder what the other person is thinking...elder abuse or what? The other day when the home health nurse came, I told the home health nurse to ask her about taking a shower because this is a new problem popping up...mother hates to shower and wash her hair. So, the HHN asked her if she showered yesterday and mother said yes, which she didn't. And, then she asked mother is she would take a shower the next day, and mother gave her this smart answer...If I feel like it, I will. Then the HHN asked her why she didn't want to take a shower and mother said because she was afraid she would fall. That's probably true. She has her chair, long nozzle, and bars to help her and me. Then, the lie...and mother said when I help her get all riled up at her!! And, that is NOT true!! I immediately said that is not true at all.

There I sat wondering what the HHN thought...believe me or mother? Being a caregiver is a hard job in this situation, but then to have my mother lie about me makes it even tougher.

What do you say when this happens? Thank you very much.

Answers 1 to 10 of 18
Top Answer
Hiya, Dj..
You have to know that this issue is VERY common. And as in my mothers case, gets much worse. Most health care teams have seen this so fairly often that they are able to determine the fact from fictions of a dementia related story. She had already said that she was afraid, so BOOM, she will come up with as many other excuses as she can. Also, if it's frustrating for them, they automatically think its frustrating for you. Which in turn, then creates that lie that pops out. In this case, I told my mom "you know this isnt true and im sorry you think that".

Sometimes when they lie its because of some other issue as in the bathing. Its their way of communicating being scared of getting in and out of the tub OR maybe its a bit embarrassing to have to have help. In cases of being embarrassed, I have my mom put on a thin robe and after I get her in the tub and close the curtain, she takes it off and hands it to me.

Wish I could say it doesnt get tougher. Sometimes, it does. The lies you hear sometimes, downright break your heart. But remind yourself, YOU know its a lie. So focus on finding the root of the lie. Not in all cases, I say, pick and choose your battles or thats all youll end up doing is battling her confused mind.


Habitual liars do get "confused" when they realize there will be consequences. They usually can't keep the lies straight at first, but as time goes on weaving fairy tales becomes natural .. and "true." At least to them. When the person is demented, however, the thin membrane between reality and fantasy becomes so blurred that every now and then you're torn between slapping the taste right out of their lying jib and feeling sorry for them.

Her lying can get YOU, as a caregiver, in all kinds of trouble because her lies will become more and more elaborate; and escalate. So nip it in the bud as quickly as you can and don't allow her to rent so much space in your head.

Start re-asserting control by discussing housing options with her on those days she seems approachable and lucid. Trust me, she'll get the message.

-- ED
DJ you cant threaten your mom with placing hersomewhere else, or even trying to discipline her like a 4 year old. As Keely said, most professional know when there is fabrication or a real concern. Trust me they look for any signs of abuse. My mom tries to do the same thing and I know its a condition of dementia. You see, if you are the child your role is so much different to them than what they are use to. What I did with my mother is say to her," I am trying to do the best I can, I'm sorry if everything does not satisfy you" Then i just shut down a little and dont talk. Trust me, that liitle part of your mom that remembers you are her child will come back and try to do or say something that will turn you around. Please remeber DJ this is your mom even though her little mind is going away slowly. It is hard and I have only been doing this for a little over 6 months, but daily I learn new things about the disease. Cherish what you have right now with your mom even though you get frustrated, and remember she is CONFUSED about what is happening to her!! It is not going to be an easy road so hang in there and if you can keep, stay on this site, trust me you are not alone!!!!
My mother, who has Alzheimer's, has been doing this for a long time. She would tell me her caregiver was mean to her and did this or that, and at first I believed her. Then she started accusing me of hurting her. Then I realized it is part of the dementia. It doesn't bother me anymore. Your mother may just be trying desperately to get out of taking a shower. My mother is the same way about showering. I used to give her a shower every other day, and now it is every 3 or 4 days and a shampoo once a week because she is so afraid. She still fights me, but we get through it. I'll be the home health nurse believes you.
I agree totally with Kelleybean and Denise55. My mother says all kinds of things that aren't true but my siblings know and the Hospice nurse knows that she is not in her right mind. I think most people realize when someone has dimentia and they take everything they say with a grain of salt. Just keep doing the best you can and keep smiling!! God Bless!
I believed my 86 yr old grandmother when she was sent to me. I had no Idea. After the damage had been done, I now have no family. GIve her to them for awhile or forever. That will ease you. Be forgiving when others believe her and remember she will lie about them too when she is talking to you. Its a horrible circle of torture to the family.
My mother used to tell everyone that i stole from her,locked her in her house all day,and did not buy food for her,She called the police on me,and told the local shop that i had stolen her credit card.
What can you do! i just hoped people knew me and that i would not do those things.
She also rung my work and told the switchboard i was abusing her.It was so upsetting.It was her dementia.
Eventually she went into a home,and now that her meds are controlled,is all sweetness and light.
But it is very upsetting
I felt very angry towards her,but realize she did not mean it.
It is the illness
Just remember that from one day to the next, you never know what may come out of their mouths. Maybe it's just me......but that HHN isn't there to make you justify anything and if she is so lacking in training and experience that she can't figure out how those with dementia fabricate things.....then I would escort her out the door and find someone who does know what they are doing. My mil lies all the time.....and yes she is afflicted with the dreaded elderly "hydrophobia"........I haven't talked with anyone that has a parent who readily jumps for a bath or shower. MIL won't argue with me anymore because she knows I will strip her down and put her in the tub. Now she goes willingly and we talk and get her and out in 30 min. But on those days she wants to be mad at me she says all kinds of things about my upbringing, and I'm "mean as a snake", yada, yada, yada. I just come here to whine and bellyache and get it out of my system.......:) Hang in there dj, I know it hurts when our loved one is picking on us.....just remember 5 minutes later you may be the best thing since peanut butter to them!
Thank you, everyone for your help to my question about mother lying about things I say or do. It is good to know others understand this. I realize it won't end and may get worse...the things she says to other people. I'm working on not letting it bother me...too much. I had to practice counting to ten today when the home health nurse came. Mother told her I let her blood pressure pills run out and she didn't have anymore. Total lie!!! Made me look bad. I showed the HHN her medicine box and bottles to let her know that was not true. Mother just sat there as though nothing at all was going on. So, I did count to ten and let it pass...after I showed her the medicine. Thanks so much for being here for me and all of us. We really do need each other to get through caregiving. God bless you all. :)
Simply, if people know YOU and your character, and know HER and her dementia-related behavior, they will know what the truth IS. Hugs, Christina

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