Validation, honesty, and lying


Registered User
Nov 7, 2004
Mum’s memory gradually got worse. For several years she could only retain a conversation for a minute, and spectacular events for maybe fifteen minutes. Her memory of her family and work mates ended in 1940. She could not grasp that the years had rolled on. She just wanted assurance that all the bills were paid and that she had food in the larder.

There was no point in trying to talk to mum about today’s world or her illness. I just went along with what she wanted to talk about, replying with an answer that was most likely to give her reassurance or pleasure.

I never thought that it was a lie. I worked on the principal that I was the nurse looking after a patient with a very serious illness. My job was to keep mum calm and happy.



Registered User
Oct 15, 2007
Thanks everyone!

Would you agree that in the early stages honesty is necessary?

I guess when the problem is memory imparement but the person is still aware of time, place and person that is when I still am honest.

When their reality becomes something other than mine I am comfortable going with the flow.

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Honesty is fine, as long as it doesn't cause any distress. The early stages are when you'll have the most distress because that's when the person flits in and out of awareness of their own condition and memory failures. In the early stages my mother kept saying "I think I'm losing my mind" and she was very upset & distraught by that. I could reassure her by saying "You're not losing your mind, you're losing your memory." Why that reassured her, I don't know but it did.

So, IMO, when honesty doesn't hurt, it's okay. If you think it will upset the person, why bother?


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I Know ever case is different , but my mother in the early stages was even taking my daughter on holiday with her she must of been living with AZ for a good 5 years , before we notices anything drastic in her behavior and that was only because of the shock of my father having a heart attract in bed with her, that killed him . That really shock her into the last stages , becoming very deluded, paranoid , obsessive , so at that stage even thought doctor told her in front of her she has AZ , she could not comprehend what it meant . so me not understanding told her what going to happen to her , she really got distress told me that I am loony . so never mention it again .

So no never lie in early stages , because she new when I was lying to her , that why I found it so hard lying in late stages , because she always new when I was lying to her , so in later stages when I started lying to stop coursing so much distress it work, but could not believe that she believed me,

I have read in an NVQ training for dementia , because people with dementia can became very paranoid you should not lie to them , because they get more paranoid, never said what stage
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Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
I think there are different lies and generalization can lead to a lot of confusion.

I believe lies are justified if they replace brutal truth, ie to prevent upset.

But some lies can cause upset, eg. the insecurities caused by sneaking away when you think it`s safe to go.

If lies are told to protect those who are cared for, rather than the carers, I cannot see how they can be disapproved of.


Registered User
Apr 25, 2007
Milton Keynes
The truth can hurt

I hate telling lies, but I have learnt over many years of working with people with memory loss, that sometimes it is kinder to tell a little white lie than speak the truth. Sometimes it is very hard to decide when to tell the truth or would a lie be better. As I have found out from past experience a lie could get you into hot water!!

What I would say is though, when somebody with memory loss, for example says "when is my Mother coming home", you could answer that with "tell me about your Mother - what do you remember about your Mother". Another example: someone may say "My husband works over there", you could reply with "what did your husband do".

As others have said, why continually remind people that their loved one's have passed away.

Taking people to the toilet, I found it did not always help to say "would you like to go to the toilet" what worked better sometimes would be to say "shall we go for a walk" and then end up in the bathroom, point to the toilet and say "would you like to use the toilet".

Best to live in their world, if they are not putting themselvers or you at risk. A little lie, can sometimes save the day.


Registered User
Mar 22, 2007
when I first began to deal with my mother I was scrupulously honest. I felt it was deceptive and morally wrong to lie to her. But I found it was pointless, because I would spend hours in a long and involved explanation to try to make her understand something to find she had forgotten the whole discussion within a few minutes!
Now I tend to just say mmm and yes and maybe and she is no more unhappy than if Id spent ages explaining something to her. I was agonising and even posted here about her plans to spend Christmas here,and stay for 2 nights but now she has totally forgotten she ever planned to come!
There is a chance she will "remember" again but if I say to her no such plan ever existed (which it didnt really she just decided it) she will accept it.
She said she had to stay because she did last year..had forgotten last year she lived 70 miles away!


Registered User
Aug 3, 2007

i haven't read every single one of these posts but felt totally uplifted by this thread. a light has come on about how to deal with mil ever increasing delusions and hallusinations.

i hope these ideas and thoughts will help me to deal with mil and give her a more satisfactory lot of answers to her questions.

thank you all.



Registered User
Sep 25, 2005

Just to say that I sure do agree with all the words of wisdom shown in this thread. To begin with and in the early stages I followed the professional advice I was given and that was to gently, "bring them round to reality". Frankly, bad advice!

You simply have to go along with whatever is being said at the time and it's simply too unkind and distressing to do otherwise (that goes for both of you and as already pointed out, 30 seconds later it is likely to be repeated again). Your loved-one gets even more confused and you both get thoroughly stressed!

Distraction techniques do help sometimes, though if a burning issue or set of thoughts is top of someone's mind, that doesn't always work, because they'll only come back to it a little later on... (I sometimes wonder if there should be a short professionally run course of "hints and tips for carers", if anyone knows of one?)

There's one difficulty I tend to have in particular and no solution, so helpful advice would be appreciated greatly:

I'm a single carer (an only son) and Mum frequently says where is "he". So I gently reply that "I'm here my dear and I am your only son" and Mum says "no, not you, you're not my son and I mean our son (everyone tells me I look like my Dad, which doesn't help), he's much younger than you - where is he, I want to see him now?!".

I tend to say of course that he'll be home later, or try some other distraction; but after 30 or 40 such repeat conversations it sure does get me rather stressed, and Mum gets fretful that "he" isn't yet home and keeps going to the front door, or to the bedrooms, to check...

I'm quite used to living in Mum's "parallel reality" and I usually manage quelling her fears and irrationalities with lieing and distractions; but it's the one occasion outlined above that really kind of "cuts me up". So any hints and tips would help us both please!

Mum is on 3 weeks respite care at present and so I'm just off to see her shortly.

Best wishes and many thanks,


Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Walsgrave,

I have told my husband his parents are dead, as mine are. When he insists they are alive, and his grandparents, too, I ask how many men aged 75 still have parents and grandparents living.

Sometimes he accepts the reasoning, other times he tells me I don`t understand, and he wants to try to find them just in case, as he comes from a long living family.

You know your mother best, and you are the one to decide what she is told.

Would it hurt her too much to be told the truth about your father and that you, as their son, are caring for your mother as your father would have wished.


Registered User
Oct 15, 2007
Wow that is really hard I bet. I'm not sure what to advise. You sound like you are doing well. A lady we care for is fixated with her sister, father and grandfather and all we can do is tell her that they will be back soon. Our manager has a different tack saying that they just phoned to say they love her very much and will see her soon. "everyone said they love you but are too busy see you just now" sounds nice.

Something I have learned at work is to ask sort of interestingly sounding "how old are you?" the answer to this often shows you where in their life they are visiting at that time and helps you prepare responses.

Any way I'm beginig to repeat myself.


Registered User
Sep 25, 2005
Loads of thanks Sylvia and River for your helpful advice and much appreciated. I'll try those thoughts and see what happens when Mum gets home from respite... (and post here so that it may help others).

Got to the Care Home this afternoon and my darling Mum was slumped in a deep sleep and couldn't be woken (gentle words, stroking, but no stiring at all, nothing). Mum's is used to a warm home as I keep the central heating on 24/7 and the Lounge she was in, whilst not cold, sure wasn't what she is used to - so i got a blanket and covered her as her hands were really cold. They also said Mum fell out of bed last night and they thought she had a "water infection" too (Doctor will visit in the morning). The staff are all very kind and caring people I should hasten to add, but I left there feeling very upset (grown men can cry too) and I know this is "respite" for me, but frankly I wish she were at home! Feeling very guilty and down right now...


Registered User
May 20, 2006
North East
I too have become an accomplished liar over the last few years.

Where once I used to tell my Mum (very gently) that Dad had died, now I just lie to keep her happy. Although she's totally forgotten about my poor dad, she's now always asking where her Mum & Dad are, and she's worrying about not seeing them. I just say that no doubt theyll be in later ...... they're not feeling too good today so couldn't visit.......they've gone away for a few days...etc etc. She cries so easily, I can't possible add to her pain by telling her the truth.



Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Got to the Care Home this afternoon and my darling Mum was slumped in a deep sleep and couldn't be woken (gentle words, stroking, but no stiring at all, nothing).


Mum fell out of bed last night and they thought she had a "water infection" too (Doctor will visit in the morning). The staff are all very kind and caring people I should hasten to add, but I left there feeling very upset (grown men can cry too) and I know this is "respite" for me, but frankly I wish she were at home! Feeling very guilty and down right now...

Dear Walsgrave

I know exactly how you feel, though in my case it's my dear husband that I leave behind. He too was totally unresponsive today. He too suffers from frequent UTIs, each of which causes considersble deterioration in his condition.

He too is well cared for, and the staff are so kind to him, and to me too. But it doesn't make it any easier to bear.

But I've got over the guilt feelings. I know that I could not care for John at home. But it's so sad, walking away.

Please try not to feel guilty about your mum. You have looked after her alone for so long, and you obviousy needed the break. Try to relax and enjoy your respite. You'll be all the more able to cope when your mum comes home.


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