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What To Do When Your Loved One Who Has Alzheimer's Makes Something Up

Armen Hareyan's picture
Daughter sitting with mother with Dementia

"Has anyone got any tips on how to deal with when your loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease makes something up which you know isn’t true. Do you tell them it didn’t happen like that or what?! I am finding I am upsetting my mum because my reaction is to disagree with her."


This was the question that was actively discussed in one of the groups on Facebook dedicated to Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. Indeed, this is a difficult situation and many caregivers don't know what to do so they don't upset their loved ones.

Here are several replies from other Alzheimer's caregivers to this question on what to do when your loved one makes things up because of memory loss.

How to deal with when your Dementia lowed one makes something up, which you know isn’t true

Please don't disagree with her. It's better to keep the peace than insist you're right and she's wrong. In her mind she's absolutely certain she's right. Try to agree, show interest, ask questions, or distract by changing the subject. You'll find you'll both be happier. - Julie McHugh

I am a caregiver for a 93-year-old woman. She doesn’t make things up but she does take something she hears on the news and inserts herself into the story. It’s extremely frustrating because then she obsessed over that one thing. I try to be patient and explain to her that it was something she saw on the news and it had nothing to do with her or her family, but about 10 minutes later she’s back to telling me about it. Lately, I just start asking a ton of questions about whatever her topic of the day is. After about 3 questions she realizes she doesn’t have answers and she moves on. - Holli Delaporte

Don't ever try to correct them it will just upset them. Their brain is trying to fill voids and is making stuff up to do so. - Jenne Reed Schoenert

what they believe is true to them and that is it. You just have to get used to it, unfortunately. - Diane Fernance

Confabulation. Try googling "Confabulation in Alzheimer's"

As much as you want to correct her, just go along with whatever confabulation she comes up with. It's kinder for the sufferer I think. - Kellie Moore

Never argue, keep the peace. Explain things in the way that comforts her. Divert her attention to the positive. Show her comfort and love. - Cindy Smith

It is difficult to deal with for sure. The stories I could tell about things my husband has imagined. So vivid and true to him - all part of his imagination. - Susan Schweinsburg

My husband is always telling stories (confabulations). At this point in his dementia, his stories are from years ago and are real events however he now adds bits & pieces that are not accurate. When its just him and I. I just listen mostly but when we are with friends sometimes I say, "that's not how I remember that." Then I leave it alone. Mainly the other person picks up on what I meant. - Cindy Minnema

Go with it. A person with no memory or reduced memory will not remember you correcting her- but she will remember how you made her feel. Emotions will become more and more of what Mom "has". Logic and executive function will go away. She will mirror your emotions and facial expressions. The hardest part for caregivers is to "not take it personally" and to "meet your LO where they are". Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Seminars were so valuable for. Me and my wife's family to learn and gain this perspective. Look up your local Alzheimer's Association- in the USA they are a tremendous resource. - Ian Cannon

I was always told not to argue but before my mom’s diagnosis, we argued often. I think it actually disappointed her when I would agree. It honestly depends on the situation and the stage of Alzheimer's disease. When my mom would accuse me of stealing something she misplaced I’d show her where it was - not just agree with her that I am a thief. When she thinks her parents are coming to pick her up I just gently steer the conversation in a different direction, instead of telling her they’ve been dead for years. It freaks me out when she insists there’s someone beside her that isn’t there & I’ve had a difficult time dealing with her hallucinations. Wish I had a good answer for those. - Lorie Chittom

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Don't disagree with her, her condition is taking her over. Agree and she doesn't get upset. My dad will see people and argue. - Margarita Murfy

I struggled so much with this at the beginning. It is hard. But the best is to simply go with the reality they are experiencing. The only time I contradict is when she is putting her personal safety at risk, or when we are at a doctor's office and she is giving false information to her physician that affects her care. - Lisa Wiersma

With my Mama I just let it go. I don't want to take the time to correct her. It really doesn't matter. Make the situation as stress-free as possible. Its easier for you than them. Lots of love. Debbie Grable

We, for the most part, live in her reality, my mom was very artistic and is a retired teacher, but she tells me she made just about everything in her house, we just go with it. - Denise Casady

Work With Dementia

Don't work against the Dementia. Instead, work with it. I did that too. If they say it happened then you agree that it happened. You don't want to upset her because then you start an avalanche of poor behavior. Never tell her that someone is dead if she believes that they are alive, She has enough on her plate already and so do you, just let her live in her world and join her there. you'll get used to it. strength and courage to you. - Eleni Ardeau

My dad's Doctor told my mom if he says the sky is red agree, the sky is red. The arguing isn't worth the aggravation on the caregiver or the loved one. When she would disagree the aggression that it created with him, not worth it. Keep the peace. - Alina Blanco

I have learned not to argue not to argue with people who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. It just makes them more defiant and you will not win. Let it go, change the subject. - John Snortum

If it's not a matter of life or death, I would just go with it. It's easier than trying to change his mind about something he really believes. - Judy Poole

Never disagree with her. Just go along with the flow, as they say. When you disagree with them it upsets them and often times they get aggressive. Divert her attention to something pleasant. - Marie Alcindor

Don't correct someone who has dementia. Just go with the flow. I had a guy at the nursing home say to me that I've parked my car to far away and will.I bring it closer next time. Don't no what he was going on about. But just yep no problem darling all.ok. And he was oh great and went on his merry way. - Linda Bird

Humor Helps

I have learned to try and find humor in my mom's stories. It helps. Otherwise, I would be going bonkers! - Pamela Brown

This took me a long time to learn. Trust me. Much easier to go along with everything they say. They will forget anyway. Don't worry if you feel like you are lying to them. That was the worst feeling for me. And then I realized, every time I told her the truth, she would just relive the painful memories. So just agree. Just last night she told me if her mother knew where she was, and I told her "YES, you just spoke to her on the phone" - Marylin McMillan

Note to our readers: How do you act in these or similar situations when a loved one who suffers from Alzhiemer's Disease and has lost memory makes things up? Please, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below for discussion.