Lying to loved ones

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Mason City, Iowa- There were more than 5 million Americans that had Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, according to Alzheimer’s Association.

Every 66 seconds someone develops the disease. One of the first signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia is memory loss, which can be difficult patients, caregivers, and family members to deal with.

IOOF Nursing Facility certified nurse assistant and caregiver Abbie Riser said because of Alzheimer’s or dementia, many residents in the memory care unit that have memory loss live in their own reality. “There’s residents that have like their repetitive questions every day, ‘when am I leaving, is my mother coming, can I pack my things, when is the bus coming’, and then we have the residents who don’t talk at all.” said Riser.

Riser said therapeutic fibbing and going along with what the patients believe is true will help prevent confusion or anger.

“Lets say they are waiting for the bus, and they’re tired of waiting, we’ll do an activity, maybe a crossword puzzle,” said Riser. “Maybe read a book together while we’re waiting and eventually they forget what they were waiting for and what’s going on.”

She using the fibbing technique isn’t necessarily lying. She said being completely honest to someone with Alzheimer’s can cause anxiety or frustration. “If they [someone with dementia] think their mom is coming, just let them think that.” said Riser. “Because if you try to tell them you’re 80 years old, she [mom] is passed away, that’s not going to be good.”

Mercy Medical Center neurologist Alireza Yarahmadi said family members or caregivers should not argue with people facing memory loss. He said the best way to treat individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia is to distract them or change the subject.

“Medications are not the first line of psychosis or dementia,” Yarahmadi said. “Medication is usually the second line. Family therapy is most important and family should be aware of this condition and how to deal with that.”

In 2016, more than $230 billion was spent in the nation for health care, long-term care and hospice for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

 

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