In Your Words

September 8, 2019

I want to share something I learned about caregiving with an elderly parent. My mother-in-law suffers from dementia. It became clear that she couldn’t live on her own anymore. She disagreed, however, so it was next to impossible getting her into assisted living. Sadly, we had to lie to her to get her to enter the building. We told her we were going to see a “doctor.” Then they wanted her to “stay” because of high blood pressure. 

Yes, my husband and I felt guilt over it. At one point, we met with a counselor who specializes in issues related to seniors; specifically dementia. He taught us about “therapeutic lying.” Basically, you are lying to them to protect them from pain or physical harm.

The reasons can vary. If someone with Alzheimer’s is wondering why their spouse isn’t back from the store yet, and the spouse has died, and you’ve reminded them of that fact many times, it’s alright to keep the fantasy that “John” will return soon. It gives them comfort.

In our case, she could NOT LIVE ALONE, and she thought she could. What do you do? Say “you win” and wait to hear that a fire was caused by the stove burners being left on?  No, you wouldn’t. She deserves to be safe and have her illness taken care of by professionals.

She accepts where she lives now, but she doesn’t participate in activities and she doesn’t really like it. We do have her over every week for dinner.  We gained some peace knowing that “therapeutic lying” is an option, offered without judgment, by those who work in this profession everyday.

In the end, it is a personal decision.


June 1, 2019

I can definitely relate. I wish I was reading your blog when going through the same stuff with my mom. The remote, money, meds etc., all issues I can relate to. Oy…….not an easy road.

I did learn not to go too “far out” regarding planning. I’m the kind of person who would have my whole life laid out if I could. My mom’s aging story taught me to think more reactionary than be in a “future” planning mode!

-Pam Thorpe