By early 2019, Grandma was referring to me as “mama” when I wasn’t around.
By late 2019 my grandma started dropping hints that she didn’t think she was at home. When her sidekicks were leaving for the night, she’d ask if they were going to take her home, too.
When Grandma started asking about going home, that was her way of communicating to us that she was not aware of her surroundings. Sometimes, it wasn’t a feeling of wanting to go home, but a specific person she wanted.
When we didn’t know how to answer her, she became afraid and worried. I knew we had to figure out how to respond to these questions in order to ensure her sense of security and safety.
I had collected enough information about our family from what she’d told me firsthand, what I found from clippings, and living connections that I began making a reference list of fibs for her Sidekicks and I to use when she began inquiring about going home or where so-and-so was.
As Grandma’s dementia progressed and we sunk deeper and deeper into the throes of COVID, we found ourselves lying even more. We’d make up stories about volunteering at church, school, teacher conferences, weddings and even funerals being canceled, rescheduled, or postponed.
We learned for our lies to be successful, they had to be well thought-out. Nobody was ever sick or in trouble. It had to be a good, normal lie for her to accept it.
Without further ado, straight from Grandma’s Care Plan, I present to you:
Potential whereabouts of Jennie and Olien:
- They went to stay over at Auntie & Uncle Ben’s
- They’re over having dinner at Zereldas (or Everett’s/Grandpa’s or with Danny and Judy) and will be home late.
- They’re going dancing and staying out late (Friday night).
- They went down to the lake (weekends).
- Daddy’s at work or he’s outside in the garden
- Mamas at work or she went shopping with Lela or she went over to check on Grandpa.
Reasons why Gma can’t go home:
- Mama wants you to stay here with Rachel because she went over to spend time with Grandpa and Grandma.
- Daddy will come get you later so you’re going to have dinner here with Rachel.
- Lawrence Welk is on tonite and you promised you’d stay and watch it with me!
Sometimes, she would ask about my grandpa, uncle and father. Here are some allibis we’d give them:
- Jack is at work.
- He went to visit Les.
- He took the boys camping.
- Kenny went down to the lake.
- He’s out with his friends.
- He took Susan out on a date.
- Kenny’s out on the road driving trucks.
- He’s on a mission with the church overseas.
I felt like a liar, liar, pants on fire, every day of my life for at least two years. If what they said about PInocchio was true, my nose would reach New York City by now.
If dishonesty is not in your nature, it can cause a great deal of unease when you have to start lying this way. After all, our entire lives, we are taught that it is unkind to lie.
It doesn’t bother me anymore, because I know that Jesus will forgive me for all the lies I told my grandma, and He will forgive you, if you need to lie to yours, too.
I hope this post not only gives you ideas about how you can reassure your loved one with dementia but that it also reassures you that therapeutic lying (as they call it in the dementia care world) is OKAY. If you simply consider it a tool in the kit you’re using to manage the mood of your loved one, it will make it easier to fib.