Therapeutic Lying And Dementia: What You Need To Know


Therapeutic lying seems like a contradiction in terms. It is often considered that the truth is the best policy, but some literature finds that lying to those with rather severe diseases, usually cognitive or mental in nature, is sometimes a much better policy. The medical literature generally refers to this as therapeutic lying, or lying that serves to better the interest of the patient in question. One of the most well known uses of therapeutic lying are cases where the patient is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. There are probably many questions that you might have regarding therapeutic lying and its use in dementia and this brief article will serve to answer but a few of them. Included throughout this guide are a few facts about therapeutic lying and dementia.


In many cases, therapeutic lying can ameliorate the cause of suffering in the patient. This does, to some extent, cause a bit of a dilemma for the health caregiver, as it seems to fly in the face of the principles of beneficence and non-malfeasance, but take into consideration that those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's are a different case than most other patients.

Those suffering from Alzheimer's are beset by a very specific disease that affects the memory and sensible components of a patient's brain. As such, reasoning with such an individual on "normal" terms may prove to be simply impossible and being truthful, per se, with such individuals, may cause some serious health detriments to them.

Take, for example, a case where a patient may insist on knowing where his or her spouse is currently located. His or her spouse has been dead for upwards of a decade, however. In order to prevent severe mental anguish, as well as rising blood pressure, which very would could be a significant health risk to someone advanced in age, the health giver might tell a lie to the patient, informing him or her that his or her spouse simply went to the grocery store and will be back in a few hours.

This form of lying not only provides the health caretaker with a bit of respite, as well as convenience, more importantly, this keeps the patient from suffering. Lying to the patient does not just provide a bit of relief to the caretaker, but rather, it keeps the patient from suffering.

Shifting Reality

Many people often assume that patients must all conform to the prevailing sense of reality experienced by most people in the world. However, this is simply not the case with Alzheimer's patients. Rarely do those suffering of Alzheimer's or of dementia find themselves inhabiting the same "world" that most others do and attempting to ground them in said world will most likely prove to be a failure.

As such, it is recommended that for those who wish to practice therapeutic lying, it is in your best interest to "shift" your reality to conform to the reality inhabited by the patient. This means that you will have to presuppose the way they live their life is the proper way to go about living, rather than the other way around. This means adjusting the way you talk to said individuals and "going along" with the stories they weave. This can mean that you may find yourself discussing people who have not been alive for many years or, in some cases, discussing people who have never existed in the first place.

Alzheimer's and dementia are 2 very difficult diseases through which a person may suffer. It is also difficult for you to see a loved one in such a situation. As such, it might be beneficial to engage in the practice known as therapeutic lying.


24 August 2015

Helping Your Parent Adjust to Assisted Living

My husband and I recently moved his mother to an assisted living facility. My name is Audrey Martin, and I am going to share our experience with you. My mother-in-law is eighty-two years old. She has been living on her own for twelve years since her husband passed away. My husband, David, is her only child. That left us in charge of making this decision for her since she has declined to the point of not being able to make sound decisions on her own. I’m not going to tell you that it’s been easy, but I will say that it can be done. I hope that what I’m about to share proves to be helpful to you should the time come that you are the one moving a loved one to an assisted living facility. Thanks for stopping by!