Archive for June 16th, 2011
Posted on June 16, 2011 - by Nurse Virginia
WHEN THE ELDER JUST CAN’T TELL THE TRUTH – DOES HE SUFFER FROM DELUSIONS, CONFABULATIONS OR IS HE JUST A LIAR?
Charles always was a talker. He had been a salesman, and as a child his mother had said he would stop people walking down the street. Charles would then join them and while walking along, talk all the way. So having Alzheimer’s disease just wasn’t going to stop Charles from talking. If he was asked a question, and he no longer remembered the answer, he made something up as he went.
Charles didn’t notice the questioning looks on people’s faces who had indeed lived through the same event he was retelling. What? You served in the Navy; we thought it was the Army. But that was a pretty convincing story of your service on that destroyer during the war.
His wife Ethel over heard him on the phone many times twisting and turning stories and facts. Ethel would just calmly ask, when Charles got off the phone “Who were you just talking to?” Ethel wanted to know who Charles was giving misinformation to, in case she needed to “undo” the information. Most of the time those fine points of “the truth” really didn’t matter in the long run.
If anyone had suggested to Charles that he was lying he would have been very much offended. He was no liar. But he did confabulate stories due to his Alzheimer’s disease.
Confabulation is the telling of a story or facts that never happened. Confabulation isn’t lying and it doesn’t even resemble a delusion because a delusion is a held or fixed belief. The confabulated tale is usually forgotten rather quickly and even denied.
No Charles is no liar; he just has a neurological condition with a great imagination that is being confused with memory. Charles’ imagination is creating false memories for himself, just when he feels he needs them.
Virginia Garberding, R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance