Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stretching the Truth

It has become a ritual these past four months since she's been back in Michigan, moving from her home in Arizona where she has spent the last 30 years. Mom turned 90 this year and it was apparent that her memory was deteriorating and additionally she'd been having some pain in her legs. Knowing that she had been diagnosed with  "dementia," my brother and I encouraged her to move back to Michigan where her children and their families lived. She agreed. It was time for her to move closer to family.

Since I work full-time and have two teenagers at home, it is difficult for me to see her during the week. So, every Sunday morning I pick her up and we go to church together followed by lunch at the local deli. She's decided to join the church so I've attended the three required new member get-togethers with her. "We lived in Swissvale, Pennsylvania," she told the group of ten at the lunch table, smiling at me as she said it. Well, the truth is "we" never lived in Pennsylvania, but she lived there when she was in high school. I stopped myself as I began to disagree. What did it matter, really? No one was going to remember where we lived. Then, she went on to exclaim that she was "rejoining the church," saying that she had belonged to this church before. She did live in this town for two years after we returned from an overseas assignment. It was possible. But, I don't think she and my dad belonged to this church.

What do you think? When our parents start speaking untruths based on their dementia, should we correct them, or just let it go?

This blog entry was written by Margaret Adrain, Arbor Hospice Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. You can contact Margaret by commenting below or emailing her at


  1. My dad's mental life became richer as his dementia worsened. By the time he died, in his mind he'd coached and played for the University of Michigan's famed Bo Schembechler. I joined with him in celebrating his accomplishments. It does not help to correct their delusions. They are real for them, and correction can cause anxiety, anger or other feelings of disconnectedness. Let them be happy.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. It helps to learn how others have managed this journey and have found joy in this stage of their loved one's life.