Therapeutic Fibbing: Are White Lies Acceptable in Dementia Care?

happy senior dining with caregiver

Therapeutic fibbing can help alleviate distress commonly felt by people with dementia.

Honesty is the best policy, right? When caring for a loved one with dementia, caregivers are frequently faced with questions from their loved one that are removed from reality. A person with dementia may ask when a long-deceased relative is coming to visit, when he or she can return home, or a variety of other questions that place family caregivers in a delicate situation: telling the truth or engaging in therapeutic fibbing.

Therapeutic fibbing is a technique recommended by dementia experts that helps family caregivers step into the current reality of a loved one in order to spare him or her any unnecessary distress. Because dementia alters a person’s brain and the ability to understand and process information, answering questions with 100% honesty can cause confusion, anger, fear and anxiety.

Using white lies as way to provide reassurance for a loved one with dementia is not the same as lying maliciously. Rather, therapeutic fibbing is a way to join a loved one’s reality, helping to provide comfort and safety and sparing him or her from any unnecessary emotional upset.

Visiting Care Giving Services, a top provider of dementia care in O’Fallon, MO, and the surrounding communities, shares some examples of when family caregivers may want to utilize therapeutic fibbing in order to help a loved one with dementia feel safe and comforted.

Example One

Family member: “Where are my parents?”

Therapeutic fib: “They are out right now, but when they arrive, I’ll let you know. Let’s watch one of your favorite TV programs while we wait for them.”

Being completely truthful may bring about unwanted distress and caused a loved one to relive painful memories.

Example Two

Family member: “I need to get ready for work.”

Therapeutic fib: “Yes, but it’s important to have a good breakfast before you go. Let’s sit down together and eat.”

Combine a therapeutic fib with a distraction technique to help to reorient your loved one to a new activity, while at the same time helping to alleviate distress and fear.

While the specific situations that family caregivers will encounter will be different, in both of these examples, therapeutic fibbing is a less distressing tactic than answering a loved one with complete honesty.

At Visiting Care Giving Services, our caregivers are professionally trained in a variety of dementia care techniques that help bring comfort and peace of mind for families and their loved ones. By designing a customized care plan for each client, we can meet a variety of care needs, while at the same time improving overall health and wellbeing. Just a few of the many ways our Alzheimer’s and dementia care services an help include:

  • Friendly companionship
  • Engaging memory care activities
  • Assistance with bathing, dressing and using the bathroom
  • Help with eating, including shopping, preparing nutritious meals and cleaning up
  • Medication reminders
  • And much more

For additional resources on caring for a loved one with dementia, and to find out how our trusted dementia care in O’Fallon, MO, and the surrounding communities can help maintain dignity while promoting safety, reach out to us today at (636) 493-9058. We offer respite care for family caregivers for several hours each week, up to and including 24-hour, round-the-clock care. Find out more about how Visiting Care Giving Services can help you navigate your family caregiving journey by contacting us today!