Senior Health

Is it Okay for Caregivers to Tell Little White Lies to an Alzheimer's Patient?

Dementia experts do support telling little white lies

Medical specialists suggest that you should always tell the truth, but dementia experts support little white lies, with caveats, of course. Cognitively impaired patients who are at the level where they cannot process the truth appreciate therapeutic fibbing. They are not upset and remain in their happy world. Causing stress and anxiety to an Alzheimer's patient serves no purpose.

Jason Karlawish, co-director of the University of Pennsylvania Memory Center, calls therapeutic fibbing “loving deception” and his advice reminds us that “the default is the truth and that the mere fact that the truth may be painful isn’t sufficient to avoid it.” However, your loved one cannot handle and understand the truth, so it’s okay to lie.

Karlawish goes on to caution that there are rules to follow when telling a white lie to an Alzheimer’s patient. Don’t laugh, don’t snicker and don’t make a joke of your lie.