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Tell the truth...

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
My mum is 88 and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, not helped by her high levels of anxiety, which she has suffered on and off for many years. She was married to my dad for 64 years, living for most of that time in the same family home where I was born and raised. We lost dad to cancer 4 years ago, and after a steady decline mum moved into residential care about a year ago.

As I have LPA I made the decision to sell the family home, after discussing with mum the pointlessness of the house sitting empty and falling into disrepair. She agreed at the time, but the memory of that conversation is gone and she now often says ‘you haven’t sold my house, have you?’. Depending on her current state of mind, and depending on how out of the blue the question comes, I either give her the answer I think she wants to hear (and say ‘no’) or I tough it out and say yes, reminding her of our conversation. This second course of action often leaves her upset and angry, so much so that I have to leave.

I don’t want to lie to mum, but sometimes this feels the kindest thing to do. Can anyone offer any advice and guidance on how I deal with this. I’ve tried distraction but I’m not very good at it (I must work on my poker face) and she sees right through it and refuses to be distracted.

Many thanks

David
 

silkiest

Registered User
Feb 9, 2017
137
Welcome to the forum Davria. This issue with the truth comes up a lot on threads here. If you search love lies you will find a lot of discussions on this topic. The general consensus seems to be to prepare your answers beforehand and give an answer that your loved one will accept. This stops them being distressed and helps you to cope. It would be nice if we could always tell the truth but if you constantly have to repeat something your loved one finds distressing it does nobody any good.
 

Susan11

Registered User
Nov 18, 2018
2,319
I also sold my Mum's house in the summer. I felt very bad about it but I couldn't bear the worry of something happening in the house during the winter. I live 200 miles , a three and a half hour drive away, and visit every other weekend so if we had a burst pipe no one would know for up to 2 weeks so the damage could be horrendous. And no I haven't told my Mum who is in a care home. If she asks if we're staying at hers I just say yes and change the subject. What is the point of telling her when it would upset her. I really can't see the point. I want her to be as happy as possible.
 

leslyz

Registered User
Oct 24, 2015
278
This is a difficult one, as you say you want to be upfront and reassure the PWD that you aren't going behind their back but you have to protect them too and sometimes that white lie just has to happen. I'm not comfortable with that either and for my mum we use a memory book and write down summaries of all important conversations and appointments etc. Ideally mum writes herself but if not I'll make sure I put the date and remind her what we have discussed. Often she will say I don't remember that but she won't deny its happened or accuse me. I guess the success of this method depends on whether your mum is someone who used lists and liked to know what was going on in general. My mum has always been fiercely independent and insists on being included even if she can't remember for more than a couple of minutes. I encourage the staff at the home also to use it and to refer mum to it if she starts getting agitated. I've put a few facts in there such as when and why she came to the care home. She has also asked me to remind her that my dad is no longer with us and when she is directed to the book amazingly this reassures her rather than upsets her but I guess everyone is different. I hope this may be helpful.
 

Soroptimist

Registered User
Jun 10, 2018
64
I think you have to use your own knowledge depending on the individual. It's such a personal thing, and people's dementia develops in individual ways. General guidance isn't always useful - eg it's supposed to be good to have photos of family members, but that doesn't work for my mum - she got upset when she looked at them as she couldn't remember the names of the faces and wanted to rip them up. She said "what's the point of something if I can't remember what it is?"
We didn't tell her we were selling the house and luckily she has never asked about it, although I would lie to her if necessary - like previous posters I want her to be as happy as possible and I want to avoid getting her upset.
Just to add - my mum's dementia is at the stage when she really has little clue about much. Earlier in her illness she had more capacity and back then I would definitely try to get her to understand what was going on. She's past that stage now, unfortunately.
 
Last edited:

Beate

Registered User
May 21, 2014
12,012
London
This isn't difficult at all - you should avoid causing her grief and bad feelings because she won't be able to deal with the truth so using it is cruel. Love lies are altogether much kinder. Maybe someone can post the link to the compassionate communication article as I can never find it when I need it.
 

myss

Registered User
Jan 14, 2018
439
This isn't difficult at all - you should avoid causing her grief and bad feelings because she won't be able to deal with the truth so using it is cruel. Love lies are altogether much kinder. Maybe someone can post the link to the compassionate communication article as I can never find it when I need it.
Hi @davria Welcome to the forum. I agree with the above post and suspect that deep down you knew the answer but felt bad of feeling that way. You're doing nothing wrong but sparing your mum repetitve upset. All the best to you.
 

Champers

Registered User
Jan 3, 2019
229
My MIL asks every time we visit if her house is ok and are we looking after it as, “I need somewhere to go home to.”
I’ve learnt to smile and say everything is just fine. My lovely husband is still training! He always wants to be open and honest so sits there trying to explain to his mother why we’re having to sell her property. :confused::confused::confused:
We regularly have this little talk in the car on the way to the CH about avoiding or deflecting discussions with both our mothers about money, going home or selling houses. He’s still not yet mastered the skill of sidestepping - or maybe I’m just more devious?!
 

leslyz

Registered User
Oct 24, 2015
278
Hi @davria Welcome to the forum. I agree with the above post and suspect that deep down you knew the answer but felt bad of feeling that way. You're doing nothing wrong but sparing your mum repetitve upset. All the best to you.

Great to read that post about compassionate communication. I'm a alarmed to think my using the memory book may be inadvertently cruel. She has actually found it to be comforting and reassuring and the care staff say it helps so I guess it does depend on the personality of the PWD but I will be more mindful when communicating with her having read this link. I hope my post did not offend. Its a constant learning process this and I guess everyone is different. Good luck Davra.
 

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
Welcome to the forum Davria. This issue with the truth comes up a lot on threads here. If you search love lies you will find a lot of discussions on this topic. The general consensus seems to be to prepare your answers beforehand and give an answer that your loved one will accept. This stops them being distressed and helps you to cope. It would be nice if we could always tell the truth but if you constantly have to repeat something your loved one finds distressing it does nobody any good.
Thank you for replying and letting me have your perspective on this, it really helps.
 

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
I also sold my Mum's house in the summer. I felt very bad about it but I couldn't bear the worry of something happening in the house during the winter. I live 200 miles , a three and a half hour drive away, and visit every other weekend so if we had a burst pipe no one would know for up to 2 weeks so the damage could be horrendous. And no I haven't told my Mum who is in a care home. If she asks if we're staying at hers I just say yes and change the subject. What is the point of telling her when it would upset her. I really can't see the point. I want her to be as happy as possible.
Thank you for replying and letting me have your perspective on this, it really helps.
 

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
This is a difficult one, as you say you want to be upfront and reassure the PWD that you aren't going behind their back but you have to protect them too and sometimes that white lie just has to happen. I'm not comfortable with that either and for my mum we use a memory book and write down summaries of all important conversations and appointments etc. Ideally mum writes herself but if not I'll make sure I put the date and remind her what we have discussed. Often she will say I don't remember that but she won't deny its happened or accuse me. I guess the success of this method depends on whether your mum is someone who used lists and liked to know what was going on in general. My mum has always been fiercely independent and insists on being included even if she can't remember for more than a couple of minutes. I encourage the staff at the home also to use it and to refer mum to it if she starts getting agitated. I've put a few facts in there such as when and why she came to the care home. She has also asked me to remind her that my dad is no longer with us and when she is directed to the book amazingly this reassures her rather than upsets her but I guess everyone is different. I hope this may be helpful.
Thank you for replying and letting me have your perspective on this, it really helps.
 

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
I think you have to use your own knowledge depending on the individual. It's such a personal thing, and people's dementia develops in individual ways. General guidance isn't always useful - eg it's supposed to be good to have photos of family members, but that doesn't work for my mum - she got upset when she looked at them as she couldn't remember the names of the faces and wanted to rip them up. She said "what's the point of something if I can't remember what it is?"
We didn't tell her we were selling the house and luckily she has never asked about it, although I would lie to her if necessary - like previous posters I want her to be as happy as possible and I want to avoid getting her upset.
Just to add - my mum's dementia is at the stage when she really has little clue about much. Earlier in her illness she had more capacity and back then I would definitely try to get her to understand what was going on. She's past that stage now, unfortunately.
Thank you for replying and letting me have your perspective on this, it really helps.
 

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
This isn't difficult at all - you should avoid causing her grief and bad feelings because she won't be able to deal with the truth so using it is cruel. Love lies are altogether much kinder. Maybe someone can post the link to the compassionate communication article as I can never find it when I need it.
Thank you for replying and letting me have your perspective on this, it really helps.
 

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
Sorry your mum is struggling with both dementia and anxiety, David @davria. I can only imagine how much harder that is for you both.
It's all easier said than done especially when your are tired and stressed, but love lies are the best policy. This is the link Beate mentioned, and I hope it helps.
Thank you for replying and letting me have your perspective on this, and the link to the article, it really helps.
 

davria

Registered User
Jul 15, 2018
11
My MIL asks every time we visit if her house is ok and are we looking after it as, “I need somewhere to go home to.”
I’ve learnt to smile and say everything is just fine. My lovely husband is still training! He always wants to be open and honest so sits there trying to explain to his mother why we’re having to sell her property. :confused::confused::confused:
We regularly have this little talk in the car on the way to the CH about avoiding or deflecting discussions with both our mothers about money, going home or selling houses. He’s still not yet mastered the skill of sidestepping - or maybe I’m just more devious?!
Thank you for replying and letting me have your perspective on this, it really helps. I do sympathise with your husband, it is really hard, especially when taken by surprise.