Many adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia struggle to reconcile their current reality with the reality that is in their head. They will often regale anyone around them with stories about growing up and relay a sense of urgency to go pick up their children from school. In some cases, they may even become angry or upset when you try to express the current situation in an honest manner. Many caretakers worry about lying to their loved ones with dementia, but there are numerous benefits to allowing them to live in their new reality.
Reality orientation is a standard method for dealing with these episodes. Using this practice, you would remind the person of the facts of reality. For example, your children don’t need to be picked up from school because they are grown up now. Reality orientation also expresses the exact date, time and the circumstances of their living situation to them. Unfortunately, many patients are scared and anxious when they hear that their mind is not reconciling with reality.
Most caretakers feel initial discomfort about going along with their loved ones, but it has many benefits. It can be therapeutic and drastically reduce the stress and pain that both the patient and the caretaker feel. Remember that your loved one has already worked through painful moments in his/her life, like the loss of a family member or big move, and reminding them of the situation when it no longer matters will do nothing more than cause pain.
Not comfortable accepting their reality completely? Try redirecting their thought process. When your loved one says that they want to go home, instead of reminding them that they are in their home, ask them to tell you about someone living in their home instead. They will feel understood and calm, not anxious and upset.