What is therapeutic fibbing in caregiving?

Therapeutic fibbing
Not everyone agrees with this type of caregiving technique, especially with dementia patients. However many find it very helpful at times when it gets difficult to handle the patient, which leads us to ask, what is therapeutic fibbing in caregiving?

Simply put, in layman's terms, this is a tactic called “diversion” or as others would prefer, “white lies”. Since dementia can blur the patient’s vision of reality it may not be the wisest decision to argue with a patient insisting on their own reality, in which case “therapeutic fibbing” comes in handy for many caregivers, simply diverting their attention to something else or going with it and telling them you agree and understand but there was a different outcome from their version of things.

As stated by the Orange County’s Alzheimer’s Association Chapter, “Therapeutic fibbing is a controversial yet very effective method of dealing with the anxiety experienced by many people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In essence, it is telling a fib in order to avoid increased anxiety and agitation in a person with dementia.” In their article “Therapeutic Fibs and Creative Communication Techniques”, they also mention that studies have shown that while being a controversial option, fibbing can successfully help reduce the caregiver’s stress and therefore also reduce stress in those with this cognitive impairment as well.

For those who find this technique to be beneficial in a smooth and practical caregiving experience, they believe it is important to keep in mind that there is no intention in deceiving their loved one, but rather help him or her feel comfortable and secure in a “safe” environment. These techniques are called “therapeutic” because they have shown to have healing powers.

Many patients still aware of their cognitive impairment refuse to have these “tactics” used on them saying they prefer the truth to be told in which case it is this author’s humble opinion that if there is such another technique that proves to be as successful as therapeutic fibbing in caregiving without adverse results for both patient and caregiver, then by all means I would definitely recommend it. However to truly understand what is therapeutic fibbing in caregiving is to know that in the end it has the patient’s well-being as its prime pillar of existence.

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