Telling the truth: you are going into a care home tomorrow and will stay forever

Discussion in 'I have a partner with dementia' started by Chrismitch, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. Chrismitch

    Chrismitch Registered User

    Jun 23, 2011
    My husband is going into care on Monday and the staff insist we all tell him the truth. I am horrified. Why give him upsetting news every time he asks what he's doing there (which could be every five minutes). Much better surely to reassure him every five minutes by saying that he'll be there a day or so for tests or while I go away on a business trip for a couple of days. They don't believe in lying to the patients. But he'll be devastated.
    I've read a lot about this and want to show them studies and opinion, but I can't find anything now that I need it.
    Any thoughts?
  2. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    Mom was recovering in hospital after emergency surgery and had lost all the few precious marbles she had before. Out of the Blue she asked me when her Mother (long since dead) was coming to visit.:eek: It was the first ever time she had asked that and I told her the truth that she was no longer with us.:(

    She went to pieces and afterwards I vowed never to cause her that kind of avoidable distress again.

    On going into a NH for the first time it was for rehab but I knew it would be permanent so over the years if she asks about going home I talk to her about having to get stronger and be able to walk a bit further.

    For situations like these and the one you are going to have to go through I see no problem with "therapeutic lies".

    I would ask the CH your husband is going into about how far they take it with telling the truth and decide if that is in fact the correct place for him.

    I just did a quick search and came up with some links for you to plow through. The first one gives a quote from the Alzheimer's society which shows how contradictory opinion is. At the end of the report there are numerous references to other articles. truth inquiry lit review FINAL (3).pdf

    "The introduction of guidelines for ‘therapeutic lying’ has also been condemned by the Alzheimer’s Society which viewed them as encouraging people to live in a ‘false reality’ (Pemberton, 2013). Interestingly, some of the guidelines of the Alzheimer’s Society pertaining to sight, perceptions and hallucinations in dementia (e.g. when a person fails to recognise another person or an object and does not accept an explanation provided by a carer) recommends ‘ignoring the mistake’ for the sake of maintaining the person’s confidence and sustaining effective communication in the future:
    ‘If they do not accept this explanation, try not to argue with them. Ignore the mistake and listen to what they are trying to say. Being corrected can undermine a person’s confidence and they may become reluctant to join in conversation and activities’ (Alzheimer’s Society, 2013c: 7)"

  3. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    hi Chrismitch
    just what you don't want on your mind when coping with moving your husband
    I came across this too - some seniors in dad's home were absolutely fine with not telling the whole truth, one said it was the current 'advice' to always be honest and my co-carer couldn't see why there was any need to 'fib'
    I've noticed that the staff now seem much more careful over which residents are told what, so do fit responses to the individual
    maybe you could think of a phrase the staff can use that is 'the truth' but worded in a way your husband will be comfortable with and say you expect them to use it as it's kept your husband settled and you believe that is the most important consideration eg ' you're here to be looked after and your wife will be popping along after her meeting'
    the staff may not believe in lying but I don't see that means they have to tell a brutal truth - I notice even the quotation PeteR gives suggests 'ignoring', and distracting wouldn't be telling a lie
    hope the staff can accept some compromise
    best wishes
  4. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    Near Southampton
    Oh Chris, it is good to hear from you but not that it is such sad news. I am so sorry that Pete has reached this stage. You must be so anxious and this isn't being helped by the attitude of the care home. I certainly never told my husband that he was in a nursing home but simply said that he was convalescing until he was strong enough to come home. That was easier for me as he had already been in hospitals for 9 months before being transferred there. I also used to tell him I was just popping out for milk, bread or a paper when I left.
    I think it is perhaps easier for the home staff to tell it as it is rather than remember to adhere to whichever story has been suggested though just a vague generalised response should be possible and far kinder.
    I hope the links Pete has supplied will help you and very best wishes for Monday.xx
  5. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    My husband only took a few weeks to settle, thankfully, but until he did, any time he asked about leaving, I just went with " the doctor says as soon as you are better." Which I suppose was sort of the truth too, because had he got better, I could have taken him home.
  6. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    Isn't the old saying "He who pays the piper calls the tune"? I believe that line of reasoning applies in this case. This is your husband and you should be the person who determines what is told to him.

    As Saffie suggested, a vague general response from them would be best. Frankly, they should be accustomed to this sort of behaviour and know how to handle it. In my mother's nursing home, the staff knew their residents and tailored their responses accordingly.
  7. Chrismitch

    Chrismitch Registered User

    Jun 23, 2011
    Many thanks to you all. I know what I'll say to them now. Hopefully they'll take it on board.
    TP to the rescue again!
    I'll be able to get away to the reunions now Saffie x
  8. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    Near Southampton
    Good to hear that last sentence Chris! We have Bath in September!
    I hope things are not too difficult on Monday though I know it will be vey far from easy.
    I have fond memories of Pete in Launde and York. Best wishes to you both. x
  9. jan.s

    jan.s Registered User

    Sep 20, 2011
    I'm sad to read this news, Chris, and, like Saffie, have fond memories of both you and Pete at Launde and in York too.

    I can only agree with the general consensus on TP, that you know him better than anyone, and know how distraught he would be to know the truth, as would Roger have been. I was fortunate that the Nursing Home staff agreed with me, and I seemed to spend my life telling white lies to Roger and the other residents! Mostly by agreeing with what they had said.

    I shall be thinking of you both on Monday and hope the move goes well. J x
  10. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    Squishy hugs Chris

    Holding your hand tight
  11. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    Im another with fond memories of you both. Thinking of you. x

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