Dementia and Lying

Why People With Dementia Lie
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Don't be too surprised -- or too disappointed -- if you hear some uncharacteristic fabrications, fibs, and outright lies from your loved one with Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia.

Distortions of the truth are in part a coping mechanism for a person with dementia, a means of explaining away (to self or others) realities that otherwise don't make sense:

  • Where did the watch go? The aide took it!

  • How did the TV remote get in the refrigerator? The toddler must have put it there!

  • Where are you going? To a very important appointment with the mayor!

  • What was my former job? Why, I was the bank president, not a teller!

  • Who is that stranger in the uniform who says she's an aide? She must be having an affair with my husband!

Untruths also help preserve a sense of dignity when someone is feeling embarrassed, afraid, or otherwise aware of doing things that are "dumb" or not quite right. They're usually best ignored or glossed over -- if you try to correct your loved one, you only make him or her feel more embarrassed, more confused. Remember: It's the disease talking. For the most part, tall tales are small stuff.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio