I’m actively involved in several online support groups for caregivers and sufferers of dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Again and again, when caregivers post about issues and problems they are having in their roles as caregivers for loved ones who have dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, I see in the responses, from other caregivers, the overwhelming advice to tell “fiblets” to handle the tough issues or problems.
I have noted that none of the dementias and Alzheimer’s Dementia sufferers in these groups offer this advice. Instead, they stress telling the truth at all times because as loved ones who are suffering with these diseases, they want to know the people they’ve entrusted their care to are being honest with them.
It is only the caregivers who suggest being dishonest and deceitful.
I’d never heard the term “fiblets” until I joined these support groups, but I know what that means morally and ethically. It is a synonymous term for an equally ubiquitous term in the general population: “little white lie.” (Lies, by the way, are lies. All the minimizing adjectives in the world do not change the bottom line of being dishonest and deceitful.)
Each time I see the word fiblet, I physically and mentally cringe. Partly because of the “it’s okay” mentality of those suggesting being dishonest by a labyrinth of excuses and justifications that, in the end, ring hollow.
And I cringe partly because of my own internal rejection of the morality and the ethics of being dishonest with anyone, no matter what his or her current neurological/mental/physical state. Beyond my foundation of absolute right and wrong that says that all dishonesty is wrong, I see the practical and detrimental effects of this practice in the relationships involved.
If I, as a caregiver for a loved one suffering from dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, am willing to be dishonest about routine matters (e.g., “Dad left the house,” when Dad is actually there or Dad is dead, “I called the doctor,” when in fact no call was made, or “your brother/son was here yesterday,” when he was not or is dead) with my loved one(s), then how can I be trusted, in a general sense, and by my loved one and everyone else in my life, to be honest about anything else?
I destroy my credibility one lie at a time. And I create, in my own mind, each time I am dishonest, a myth that it’s okay, that it’s the easiest way, and that it’s necessary. And, I also am creating a habit that will automatically default to dishonesty any time I face a difficult situation in life. At some point, down the road, I won’t be able myself to know what is true and what is not because of all the lies I’ve told before.
So, not only have I broken the trust of my loved one(s) who’ve entrusted their care and their lives to me, but I have also broken the trust of everyone else in my life.
So, is it ever okay to be dishonest with our loved ones suffering from dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease?
The unequivocal answer is “No!”