wings and things

Dementia and deceit

on February 16, 2017

I absolutely love the idea of fabulation (making up stories), especially in the context of Dementia. After all, if Anthony can tell me that there are calves frolicking outside the window of his nursing home room (not true), surely I, too, am allowed to fabulate. The only difference, I guess, is that I am doing it knowingly; I am lying on purpose in order to comfort him, to make him happy.

For example:

Anthony: I fixed all the fences and the trough leaks this morning.

Me: Is that why you’re so exhausted?

Anthony: Yes, and I rode the bicycle.

Me: How far?

Anthony: About 20 miles!

Me: Bloody hell, Ants, you are overdoing it!

Anthony: I know.

Me: Ming can do some of those jobs for you – he wants to.

Anthony: He’s too young, Jules.

Me: He’s 23, Ants.

Anthony: That’s someone else. Our son is too little.

Me: Well, when he grows up he wants to be just like you.

Anthony: Oh.

Me: Ants, remember that lotto ticket we bought last week?

Anthony: No.

Me: Well we won a lot of money.

Anthony: How much?

Me: Thousands! We will never have to worry about money again. Isn’t it wonderful!

Anthony: Are you sure?

Me: Absolutely, so I am going to take the money and run off to Hawaii!

Anthony: You would never leave me.

Me: Yeah, I was just kidding, Ants. So what do you want me to do with all this money?

Anthony: Put it in the freezer.

There is no bicycle, no money and very little reality to this kind of conversation but it helps! Sometimes I feel like an actor in a play where ad-libbing is the norm. My fabulatory conversations with Ants often resemble something Samuel Beckett might have written.

My attitude may seem controversial but, as a farmer, Ants has always been worried about money, so it seems logical to fabulate the idea that there is plenty. Why not? It is a comfortable lie and now he often greets me with the question of how much is in the bank account. If I told him that his pension was not quite covering his nursing home costs and that I was eating into my superannuation to survive, he would be worried.

I don’t want him to be worried and I love the way he responds to the news of our (fictitious) burgeoning bank account. I also love the way he is under the impression that he is still farming, and farming successfully.

Anthony: That was a good party.

Me: Which one?

Anthony: The wedding.

Me: Oh, yes, it was brilliant!

Sometimes I feel acutely the surreal experiences of having been privy to these fabulations that Anthony thinks have happened in reality. He doesn’t know that he has Dementia and he often doesn’t realise he is in a nursing home.

One thing that is absolutely certain in our relationship, and that is free of fabulation, is that we love each other very much.

9 responses to “Dementia and deceit

  1. susanpoozan says:

    It must be that love that keeps you both going, wonderful.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your sense of humour is infectious and guarantees you’ll make it through with flying colours. What an inspiration you are!

  3. ksbeth says:

    you are both masters of this, though for different reasons )

  4. I think your fabulation is fabulous. What a gift you are to each other.

  5. the husband of a patient with Parkindons was asking about hallucinations just yesterday. his wife gets them when she goes to bed – lots of people in her bedroom. Because of your writings, I have a much greater understanding of the condition. Dear Julie thank you for sharing your experiences. it helps others even on the other side of the world.

  6. Judy says:

    It’s amazing how you take a tragically depressing situation and make it lighthearted and fun. It takes a toll on you, but when you write this way – I hope you see how beautiful it is what you are doing.
    You are an inspiration, Julie.

  7. Judi Lynn says:

    You two always have fun, even if it’s make-believe!

  8. Many say that there is no time when it is right to lie…. but I believe that if the lie is to give comfort and support and harms no one, then it’s okay… and that’s the situation that you’re experiencing right now.. take care;;;; Diane

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