More on “Fiblets”

By Robert Elmer III on August 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

My wife and I usually make it a point to go out for breakfast every Saturday morning. Recently, while visiting one of our favorite breakfast haunts, one of my readers recognized me as the man behind these articles. Her over 90 year old mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s so it didn’t take us long to realize we had some common ground. I was glad, before she left, that she took advantage of my offer to ask me if she had any questions. We never made it out of our chairs.
Her main concern had to do with Mom, Dad and honesty. Like so many, she wasn’t sure if she should be less than honest with Mom about where Dad was. I realized immediately that Dad had probably been gone for a while and she was being challenged by occasional inquiries about his whereabouts from mom. Unfortunately, at one point in time, Dad was in one skilled community while mom was in another. They were never together again but to this day, Mom will, every once in a while, ask where he is? Or make a statement along the lines of “I think your father has a girlfriend. I haven’t seen him in a long time.” Her question to me was, should I tell Mom that Dad is gone? My answer was no.
My reasoning is very simple; why make her mourn the death of her husband every time the subject comes up? It’s in situations like these that we turn to the technique of therapeutic fibbing and not everyone embraces it as they should. As a guest speaker, I had a young man in my audience appalled at the thought of lying to his mother. I asked him if he thought it was better that his mother learned of and repeatedly mourned the death of his sister, her daughter 4 or 5 time a week when he’d visit? Or was it better that he reduce her stress and his by simply saying, “don’t worry mom, Heather is fine and she may be by to see you this afternoon?” Another daughter thought that therapeutic fibbing was just plain “B.S.” I’ve said it many times, I appreciate that we were all raised to be good little boys and girls and never to lie to anyone, especially our parents but we’re talking about a quality of life. Her dad was very anxious in those early days of his arrival in a dedicated environment for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and had the staff not been trained in therapeutic fibbing or using “fiblets” he never would have been able to stay there.
I had a wife dropped off in a community of mine years ago for a respite stay. Hubby was going down South to visit the kids for a couple of weeks and it was a trip that his wife could never have made. Unfortunately, before he left, he made arrangements with his friends to have them all stop in to see her and to tell her not to worry, that he was coming back soon. For two and half weeks, she stood by the door waiting for him, rather than getting engaged in all the wonderful things she could have that would have made her stay much more pleasant.
As most of you are aware, when you are dealing with an individual with Alzheimer’s you’re doing just that, dealing with an individual. Our mission as caregivers is to insure that they feel safe and in a positive place. There’s a great deal for them to attempt to process in their everyday life and that’s one more reason that honesty is not always the best policy. Trust me that when you realize how constructive using “fiblet’s” are, the more comfortable you’ll be using them.
If there are any questions I can answer for you please feel free to contact me at And remember, Join the Journey.


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