Therapeutic fibbing, or white lies, can be a very effective technique for decreasing anxiety in people with dementia. Because their brains are damaged and no longer function like a healthy brain, those with cognitive impairment live in an altered reality, though very real to them.
When dementia causes a person to forget that they no longer drive or live in the home they had for many years, hearing the ‚Äútruth‚ÄĚ can cause anxiety and emotional damage because they are unable to process the truth. Using a therapeutic or white lie, such as ‚Äúthe car is being serviced,‚ÄĚ can be one of the kindest and most effective responses a caregiver can give someone living in the past because of memory loss.
This evasive technique, along with re-direction and diversion, protects them from a reality that will only cause pain and agitation due to their damaged brain. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, ‚Äúmeticulous honesty can lead to emotional distress when someone has dementia and does not remember their parents are no longer living.‚ÄĚ
Using this technique does not mean you are trying to deceive a person. Rather, you are helping them to feel comfortable, safe and calm. The word ‚Äútherapeutic‚ÄĚ means ‚Äúhaving or exhibiting healing powers.‚ÄĚ So when you use this method you are helping to comfort a loved one‚Äôs fear and promoting moments of joy as opposed to moments of anxiety.