It is common for those living with dementia to exhibit changes in their behavior, including lying. When you are the caregiver to someone who has dementia, it’s hard to know what to expect. If you have a loved one who suffers from dementia, you know that they can be lying very often. So, why do dementia patients lie and what can you do about it?
In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons behind why dementia patients lie, as well as some tips for how to deal with it. Stay tuned!
Reasons for Dementia Patients to Lie:
The #1 reason your loved one who has dementia is lying is because of confabulation. If you’re unaware of that word, confabulation or to confabulate is the term medical professionals use to describe a very similar symptom to lying but also quite different.
And this is the reason your loved one who has dementia is lying to you, unaware of the fact that they are doing it.
In layman’s terms, Confabulation happens when someone has a distorted memory that causes them to give false information without the intention of deceiving others. The person experiencing confabulatory symptoms does not know that their false memories aren’t true; they’re just giving off misinformation with no bad intentions!
In a nutshell, when your loved ones are making things up, they are not aware that whatever they are saying is not true. On the contrary, they actually believe whatever they are saying is true even though none of them are true.
Most of the time, your loved one is only lying because their unconscious mind is replacing their memory with imagination and filling the gaps of the memory that slipped through their mind.
Anxiety and Paranoia
Many seniors with dementia experience a significant decline in their short-term memory capacity. This can lead to paranoia and anxiety and can also make it difficult for them to navigate social situations. In many cases, dementia patients will lie to preserve their dignity and fit into the situation.
One common way these individuals try to cope with their condition is by telling untruths about themselves, both to others and themselves. This may exaggerate or minimize their abilities or accomplishments to fit in with those around them. Additionally, they may also give false information about their past to preserve their dignity and self-esteem.
While this may seem like dishonest behavior of these patients, it is important to remember that dementia patients aren’t actually lying. Rather they are mistaken by their own imaginations. Ultimately, understanding why dementia patients lie can help us better support them as they navigate this challenging time.
While detecting the lies is pretty easy for the nearest ones, it can confuse your relatives and neighbours who are not aware of the situation. Also, if you’re going to explain, make sure not to do it before the patient. That might make them seriously upset.
Do Dementia Patients Know They Are Lying?
Dementia patients are not aware of the fact that they are lying. Their lies are usually incorrect information about themselves or others that their unconscious mind has created, and the patient can’t really differentiate between the two versions.
The reason dementia patients lie is because of the deterioration of their mental faculties. The ability to understand what is true and false becomes impaired, so they may believe the lies they are telling.
It’s important to understand that when dementia patients are lying, they are not doing so deliberately or maliciously.
Is It Okay to Lie to Dementia Patients?
There is no black-and-white answer to this question, as it can depend on the individual case and situation. In general, however, it is accepted that lying to dementia patients is okay if it is done to ensure their wellbeing or prevent any distress.
For example, if a patient expresses a desire to see a long-lost relative who has passed away, telling them that this person will be coming to visit soon could brighten their day and help improve their mood.
In contrast, if a patient repeatedly asks about an upsetting event from their past (e.g., something that led to their dementia), denying that the event ever happened could help preserve their emotional health.
How to Deal With Confabulation?
It’s important to understand the difference between confabulation and lying. Confabulation is an inaccurate memory, but it’s not an intentional choice. Instead, it’s an unintentional effect of dementia. On the other hand, lying is a deliberate choice to misrepresent the truth.
When someone with dementia confabulates, they may sincerely believe that their memory is accurate, even though it’s not. This can be confusing and frustrating for both those with dementia and their loved ones.
However, it’s important to remember that confabulation is not deliberately misleading. Rather, it’s a symptom of the disease.
A Word From Us
Confabulation is a complicated topic and one that may be confusing or frustrating to those who don’t understand it. However, it’s important to remember that confabulation is not the same as lying.
It’s easy to see why confabulation in dementia may be confusing or frustrating at first. After all, it can seem like the person is making things up or lying. However, it’s important to understand that confabulation is actually a coping response to the cognitive changes in dementia.
Once we view it in this light, it can help decrease any emotional reaction we might have and enable us to “go with the flow” and join the reality of our loved ones.
Dementia patients may often lie unpurposely to compensate for their lost abilities. Therefore, caregivers and loved ones need to understand this condition and cope with it in the most effective way possible.
Understanding the situation can help make life easier for those who have dementia. What have you found to be the best way to deal with a loved one who has dementia? Let us know in the comments below!
Jason is a certified polygraph examiner and a twenty year veteran in the field of forensic IT. He is the owner, chief examiner of Lie Detectors-UK and the Secretary of the UKPA. He qualified in America at APS Fort Myers under the supervision of his mentor Benjamin Blalock.
Jason Hubble is a twenty-year veteran in the field of forensic IT, having worked for many City law firms throughout his career. This experience has really helped with the field of polygraph allowing him to use this in his polygraph testing.