Is It Ethical to Lie to Residents with Dementia?

Residents with dementia can suffer from memory loss which makes navigating daily activities difficult. When providing care to a resident with dementia, is it ethical to lie when the truth would be more painful or confusing?

Dementia affects approximately 5.7 million people in the United States. With one in ten Americans of the age of 65 living with some kind of dementia, it is a pervasive problem that will affect the residents of your facility.

In a recent article on Palo Alto Online, the realities of dealing with residents with dementia are explored in the context of several cases studies. One case included a caregiver looking after his spouse who preferred “comfort over candor” when dealing with the effects of dementia. While another spouse had deeply held beliefs about honesty so the family tried to avoid directly misleading their ailing father/husband. You can read the full article here:
https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2019/02/01/caregivers-grapple-with-idea-of-lying-to-dementia-patients

Ultimately, the decision of how to treat a resident’s dementia in a compassionate way that improves quality of life should be the goal of caregivers. The decision is a deeply personal one and should be discussed with the resident’s family.

June 10, 2019

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