Welcome back Careblazer!
Has your loved one ever asked you a question that you didn’t want them to know the answer to? Or perhaps your loved one believes something that isn’t true? How do you handle these situations without upsetting your loved one and yourself?
I’m going to share an approach with you and at the end I want you to comment below how you're going to apply this strategy!
If you would rather watch a video on this topic, click here.
Okay. So as you know from my video on the 3 things to avoid doing with someone who has dementia, trying to reason, argue, or correct someone with dementia is usually not recommended. It often harms the relationship and makes it less likely that your loved one will move on from whatever they are asking or believing. If you need a recap, be sure to watch THIS VIdeo.
So rather than trying to convince your loved one of the truth if that hasn’t been working or getting them to believe something that they don’t believe, I want to invite you to consider CHOOSING KINDNESS OVER THE TRUTH. This means that rather than trying to find the most rationale response to their belief, you want to find the most kind response to their belief. Many times the most rationale response is upsetting to your loved one. I’m going to go over some specific examples.
SITUATION: Let’s say your loved one isn’t safe to drive anymore and asks you for the keys.
A truth response might sound like...
TRUTH: Reminding your loved one that they can no longer drive when they ask for the keys...probably doesn’t go well. This is a great situation to use kindness over the truth.
A KINDNESS RESPONSE might sound like...
KINDNESS: Responding with, “I feel like driving today" and opening the passenger side door for your LOWD.
Other examples could be...
TRUTH: "You don’t work any more, you’ve been retired for 20 years."
KINDNESS: "You have the day off, let’s go for a walk.”
TRUTH: "You’re not safe to live at home alone anymore."
KINDNESS: "I made a beautiful new room for you and can’t wait to spend more time together.”
The key here is to resist the urge to respond with reason or correct...IF they haven’t been open to the truth before. You can be creative in your responses!
I hope this is something you’re open to considering.
Let me say that one more time. Choosing kindness over truth is not meant to deceive, it is meant to relieve. It’s actually the kindest approach you can take in many situations.
If the truth about something is bringing your loved one with dementia significant anxiety, worry, or pain, what can you do to relieve that pain? What can you do to show kindness, rather than staying focused on the truth?
Below are some examples to help demonstrate how valuable this approach can be.
Example: Your dad with dementia has not worked in over 10 years. He wakes up every morning and starts to get ready for work.
Typical Response: “Dad, you don’t work anymore, remember? You stopped working 10 years ago.”
New Response: “Dad, the boss called, you have the day off from work today! Let’s go for a walk.”
Reminding your dad that he doesn’t work anymore is likely going to make him either... #1) Not believe you and continue to get ready, #2) Feel anxious that he no longer works and didn’t remember that fact, or #3) Feel sad because the thing that he did for so long no longer happens.
Instead of viewing lying as all bad, I want you to think of your reason for lying. Is it to relieve your loved one’s pain or is it for personal gain? If the primary cause is to relieve your loved one’s pain, then by all means, do it. This is going to save you and your loved one so much heartache.
Here’s another example of when a kindness over truth can help.
Example: Your husband has dementia and is no longer safe to drive. You are getting ready to drive to a doctor’s appointment when your husband says, "I’ll drive".
Typical Response: “You can’t drive anymore, you have dementia and the doctor said you aren’t safe.” This is likely to lead to arguments, resentment, and frustration.
New Response: “I actually feel like driving today. Let me chauffeur you around.” Smile, open the passenger door for him, and motion for him to go inside.
The new approach is much more likely to avoid arguments and does not make your loved one feel bad for reminding them of something they are no longer able to do. Notice how you don’t remind or bring attention to your loved one’s inability to drive.
Whether you have dementia or not, no one likes to be reminded of what they can’t do. Because there are many things that may pose a safety risk for people with dementia, it can feel that much of what you say to your loved one is negative or a reminder of their disease. Get creative, think of things you are able to tell your loved one that reduces the chances for anxiety, sadness, and anger.