Dementia and Lying

Why People With Dementia Lie
grandma-lying

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!

    SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You

  • 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.

SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You

over 1 year ago, said...

As one said, it is the little lies that are the biggest problem. "I have washed myself." "I have done my teeth." I drink water when you are not looking, you don´t see everything." Thank you for the article. As one said, it is the little lies that are the biggest problem. "I have washed myself." "I have done my teeth." I drink water when you are not looking, you don´t see everything." Thank you for the article. Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

It just affirmed again that this is so common. My husband does this. I do not worry about things that I know he is fibbing about. What bothers me is what he is fibbing about that I dont know. But I dont worry, if I start worrying I will worry myself silly. I just have to depend on God to help me through this phase. He is still able to stay home alone while I work so there is opportunity for him to tell me things that that are not true. I need to work for 2 1/2 years more so that I... Show more It just affirmed again that this is so common. My husband does this. I do not worry about things that I know he is fibbing about. What bothers me is what he is fibbing about that I dont know. But I dont worry, if I start worrying I will worry myself silly. I just have to depend on God to help me through this phase. He is still able to stay home alone while I work so there is opportunity for him to tell me things that that are not true. I need to work for 2 1/2 years more so that I can retire. ( I am 57 and my husband just turned 60, he has early onset Alzheimers) .But if I need help with him during the day before that, we have long term health insurance to cover that expense. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

Or maybe you are asking at what stage is it appropriate for the caregiver to engage in fibs and fabrication to deal with the dementia patient's behaviors? Or maybe you are asking at what stage is it appropriate for the caregiver to engage in fibs and fabrication to deal with the dementia patient's behaviors? Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

Dee, it can happen before other people are aware of the dementia, before diagnosis. A person with dementia who has had professional status and is accustomed to interacting with others from a position of power may be a convincing fabricator without realizing it, as dementia destroys parts of memories and the person ties what is left together into a narrative that makes sense to him or her. What sucks is if that narrative includes accusations of wrongdoing by people whose credibility, job... Show more Dee, it can happen before other people are aware of the dementia, before diagnosis. A person with dementia who has had professional status and is accustomed to interacting with others from a position of power may be a convincing fabricator without realizing it, as dementia destroys parts of memories and the person ties what is left together into a narrative that makes sense to him or her. What sucks is if that narrative includes accusations of wrongdoing by people whose credibility, job status or reputation may be damaged as a result. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

What stage of dementia is fibs & fabrications considered? What stage of dementia is fibs & fabrications considered? Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

I care for my mother in law who lives with us in the UK.Reading your comments today has helped me as at times I feel being her carer quite a challenge.The spontaneous aggression and mood swings go up and down like a graph, recently we are getting lies all the time.You do so much for them but never get a thankyou or even some sort of acknowledgement but just have to accept its not really them its the dementia.Sadly it now looks like my father is developing traits and his short term memory has... Show more I care for my mother in law who lives with us in the UK.Reading your comments today has helped me as at times I feel being her carer quite a challenge.The spontaneous aggression and mood swings go up and down like a graph, recently we are getting lies all the time.You do so much for them but never get a thankyou or even some sort of acknowledgement but just have to accept its not really them its the dementia.Sadly it now looks like my father is developing traits and his short term memory has suddenly deteriorated but he and my own family (sister & brother) are in denial.I sincerely hope I'm wrong.People aren't fully aware of dementia and how it can affect individuals, their families and carers.As we are all living longer it is is something we are going to see or experience first hand more and more. Hide

about 2 years ago, said...

Again, my hubby does this sometime. I have to just ignore it, I would never want him to feel embarrassed about it. Again, my hubby does this sometime. I have to just ignore it, I would never want him to feel embarrassed about it. Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

more to the specific points more to the specific points Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

The most important thing that I forgot to mention is EDUCATION. People have absolutely no idea what Dementia/Alzheimers is. They think it's just plain forgetfulness. They don't understand personality changes and how the sufferer suddenly becomes angry and difficult. This is especially true of friends and neighbors who then pull away putting the blame on the sufferer. EDUCATION MUST start at the school level. My generation, the baby boomers are the largest generation in history. Therefore,... Show more The most important thing that I forgot to mention is EDUCATION. People have absolutely no idea what Dementia/Alzheimers is. They think it's just plain forgetfulness. They don't understand personality changes and how the sufferer suddenly becomes angry and difficult. This is especially true of friends and neighbors who then pull away putting the blame on the sufferer. EDUCATION MUST start at the school level. My generation, the baby boomers are the largest generation in history. Therefore, Alzheimers is almost at an epidemic level and will grow. EDUCATE THE YOUNGER GENERATION NOW, before it's too late. Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

The real problem is that by the time this behavior starts the disease has already progressed too far. My family history began with my Aunt, then my Mom, then my cousin, then my sister (who passed away in 2012. She too was in denial until it was too late. Since I have this strong family history I have been more than vigilant regarding my behavior and memory. I just turned 64 a few days ago. However, 3 years ago I found a neurologist and have been in his care. I am on the lowest dose of... Show more The real problem is that by the time this behavior starts the disease has already progressed too far. My family history began with my Aunt, then my Mom, then my cousin, then my sister (who passed away in 2012. She too was in denial until it was too late. Since I have this strong family history I have been more than vigilant regarding my behavior and memory. I just turned 64 a few days ago. However, 3 years ago I found a neurologist and have been in his care. I am on the lowest dose of Aricept and am doing better than most people who are younger and don't have the disease. It's up to family to be vigilant and not go into denial. The sooner it's caught, the better for everyone. My doctor feels that my early self-diagnosis could actually stop the disease in it's tracks. Now I must go and make dinner and feed the cats (before I forget LOL). Linda Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

When lies are told that impugn the honesty or morals of others who may suffer serious consequences as a result, THAT person needs to be protected as well as the dementia patient. The balance should not err so far on the side of protecting the patient's dignity that it is done at the cost of someone else's. If that someone is a nursing home aide (typically not a highly paid job, and commonly performed by low-status, immigrant female workers, it is not "small stuff" to be accused of theft or... Show more When lies are told that impugn the honesty or morals of others who may suffer serious consequences as a result, THAT person needs to be protected as well as the dementia patient. The balance should not err so far on the side of protecting the patient's dignity that it is done at the cost of someone else's. If that someone is a nursing home aide (typically not a highly paid job, and commonly performed by low-status, immigrant female workers, it is not "small stuff" to be accused of theft or unethical/immoral behavior. Dementia patients can be persuasive liars. Just because it is part of the disease, with very difficult behavioral aspects, like alcoholism, schizophrenia or psychosis, does not mean that others around them have no rights to safety from abusive words or behavior. Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

I care for someone in the family with this problem. What upset me when she see people that are not there and people talking to her that are not there. In the summer when the doors are open, she is always saying someone is on the other side of the fence talking to her. I check, but no one is there. People come to see her and she has been talking with them or someone is doing stuff in her bedroom. She hide things then I can not fine them, she said people are taking them. The list goes on... Show more I care for someone in the family with this problem. What upset me when she see people that are not there and people talking to her that are not there. In the summer when the doors are open, she is always saying someone is on the other side of the fence talking to her. I check, but no one is there. People come to see her and she has been talking with them or someone is doing stuff in her bedroom. She hide things then I can not fine them, she said people are taking them. The list goes on about wetting the bed to not having lunch, etc. Hide

almost 3 years ago, said...

My Mom is in a group home with dementia. She is in an adjustment period now, came from assisted living facility. she has been falling to much and to confused to live by herself in assisted living so we had to move her to a wonderful group home we found. anytime we take her to the doctor or out anywhere, she is happy to get out but is very confused as to why or where she is. At Easter, she came to our house for the day and we took her back that evening. At 2:00 in the morning she called... Show more My Mom is in a group home with dementia. She is in an adjustment period now, came from assisted living facility. she has been falling to much and to confused to live by herself in assisted living so we had to move her to a wonderful group home we found. anytime we take her to the doctor or out anywhere, she is happy to get out but is very confused as to why or where she is. At Easter, she came to our house for the day and we took her back that evening. At 2:00 in the morning she called and said we took her back to the wrong apt. that she didn't reconize any thing. My question is, she still talks about coming over on holidays and says things like, but I'll probably won't go, nobody wants me around and there are to many people I don't know. When she is there, she is withdrawn and gets very very moody, at one point at Christmas, she yelled at my nephews to "shut up, you are to noisy", so I really don't want to have her over for the holidays, as there are small children and she get's so mean, no one wants to be around her. So how do I handle this? help please? Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

My friend used to just repeat the same stories, over and over, but now the endings are different when she tells the same stories! She tells me things about her neighbors I sincerely doubt they have shared with her; I believe she just adds to what she knows in an effort to have "normal" conversations and not be boring. But it's difficult to get her off a story, once she gets going with it. And sometimes it changes several places along the way to the end of the conversation! Sometimes I have... Show more My friend used to just repeat the same stories, over and over, but now the endings are different when she tells the same stories! She tells me things about her neighbors I sincerely doubt they have shared with her; I believe she just adds to what she knows in an effort to have "normal" conversations and not be boring. But it's difficult to get her off a story, once she gets going with it. And sometimes it changes several places along the way to the end of the conversation! Sometimes I have no idea if what she is saying is actual information or just imagination... at least, she can still try to communicate ideas, to not be boring! Bless her heart, she will be going into a private assisted living home soon. It will be "horrible" for her ("horrible" is a word she uses frequently!) But I will miss her, a lot. Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

Lies can be devastatingly harmful weapons, whether wielded accidentally, innocently, or deliberately--like guns. Lies can be devastatingly harmful weapons, whether wielded accidentally, innocently, or deliberately--like guns. Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

This was a much more serious problem with my mother. She called the police on me, 911, the sheriff, the magistrate, tried having me evicted and destroying me with neighbors, Dr.'s etc. She was still good verbally and passing test in the early beginning. Of course now everyone knows as she got more bazare with her stories and she is in a nursing home but her ego defense mechanisms were so strong she would have destroyed me to protect her own ego. This is an awful disease and I have yet to... Show more This was a much more serious problem with my mother. She called the police on me, 911, the sheriff, the magistrate, tried having me evicted and destroying me with neighbors, Dr.'s etc. She was still good verbally and passing test in the early beginning. Of course now everyone knows as she got more bazare with her stories and she is in a nursing home but her ego defense mechanisms were so strong she would have destroyed me to protect her own ego. This is an awful disease and I have yet to find the humor in the things she put me through. Hide