Reba Asked October 2009

My husband has Alzheimer's. When he asks about his mother and I tell him she has died he starts crying. Should I lie to him?

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Oct 2009
This is highly individual, but you have tried the truth and it upsets him, so it may be time to start saying something to the effect that his mother is happy and, depending on your/his spiritual beliefs, you could say she is "with grandma and grandpa" or something of that kind.

Some would argue that you should just keep telling him she died, but I personally would try to find a way to tell him he "will see her again" or something, because I don't see the point in distressing him when he can't understand. He is reliving her death every time.

It's a decision you'll have to make. Know that whatever you decide, you are not alone. This is very common as Alzheimer's progresses, as people "go back in years." Many start asking for their parents. You've got lots of company in this agonizing choice.

Keep checking in. We know it's hard.

Carol
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EXPERT Deanna Lueckenotte Oct 2009
How I approach it with my families and staff is many different ways. There is a technique you can use called a "therapeutic lie." What I mean by this is instead of bringing your loved one into your reality take yourself into their current reality. If they think it is 1940 in Oklahoma and a tornado is coming then that is where you are. The other way I phrase it to families and staff is to enter their reality where ever they may be. If your husband asks a question about his mom that leads you to believe that he thinks she is alive try redirection(diverting his attention to something else), reminiscing (asking memory type questions about his mom;for example: Tell me about the time you and your mom went to the baseball game together) or the therapuetic lie technique (For example: your mom is on vacation, at the store, things that his mom would have done while she was living. Always keep enter their reality where ever they may be in your mind and then you will not feel like you are lying to your loved one.
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linda09 Oct 2009
Yes, my father would ask me where's your momma ? I told him shes in heaven well it shocked him and he would go in depressions . So I decided from then on I would tell him she's sleeping and he would smile and say oh she must be tired, I said yes she's tired dad .. and it's good to see him smile rather than be all heartbroken. At another time I would just ask him where he thinks she is? He said oh she's probably at home resting. Yeah dad I think so too.
Don't say she died, it would hurt him and he'll feel all alone ...
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Reba Oct 2009
Thanks for all of your input on this - but telling him she is still somewhere is better than saying she is dead. That hurts any of us. But this time he fooled me and asked for the phone book to look up her number. They aren't all there, but they are if you know what I mean.
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soneal09 Oct 2009
I have had it suggested to me to lovingly engage in therapeutic lying. Kindness is the greatest wisdom.
A dementia expert said, "When a person with dementia is looking for a specific person who is deceased you can say something like, "if I see him/her, I will tell him/her you are waiting for him/her." That is sweet and I suppose if you did see a deceased person and could talk to him/her then you most certainly would! Good luck.
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linda09 Oct 2009
Yes, sometimes i wonder if dad is playing games with me to see what I would say. Ahh I dont know. I just tell him she's sleeping, resting, who knows maybe I'll tell him she went to Walmart then next time he asks haha.
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barthas Oct 2009
i find that changing the subject works. Ask him about the time that she .... or the fact that it is raining outside. Just about anything. The questions still keep coming, but it gets to be a game.
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Reba Oct 2009
I have done that and sometimes it works and other times is doesn't. So that is why I just started telling him she died. But I found that is a little hard for him. So I will have to keep trying and see what works the best for him. Thanks to all of you who have given your ideas to me. If anyone else should come up with something new, would love to hear from you. A lot of times I don't think they are as far gone as we think. Then there are days they are not here at all. Mornings are bad for him until he gets his meds. Thanks again - God bless!
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Reba Oct 2009
Also he talks so low we can hardly hear him. I have to watch him all the time. He isn't nasty, but they say that will happen. IF it does then I can not take care of him. When they get out of control there is nothing else you can do but put them in a home.
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hapfra Oct 2009
I would not tell the person anything that possibly be would be upsettingsing to them---at the Alz support meetings--they use the term 'fiblits'-and perhaps this will work for you. Good luck on your caregiver journey.
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