Confabulation in Dementia Can Feel Like Hurtful Lies
When a person develops any form of dementia, it is difficult for family and friends to witness their diminishing capacity and the unbearable frustration it brings. One of the worst things we dementia caregivers must cope with is the fact that a loved one’s brain is broken and may cause them to tell terrible “lies” about us. Neurological damage can cause patients to make up hurtful stories and level false accusations toward their caregivers. No matter how far-fetched the untruths and accusations may be, a dementia patient believes these things are true. As much as these untruths may hurt, it is important to remember that there is no ill intent; the disease is causing your loved one to fabricate stories.
What is Confabulation?
The neurodegenerative processes that cause dementia have pronounced effects on a senior’s behavior, emotions, and ability to think rationally. However, even as the brain incurs damage, it still struggles to make sense of the information and stimuli it receives and to work around lapses in memory and cognitive ability.
Many dementia patients rely on confabulation to fill gaps in their memories, especially when compensating for memory loss in the early stages of the disease. According to a review article published in the International Journal of Neurology and Neurotherapy, “confabulation is the creation of false memories in the absence of intentions of deception.” Although a dementia patient’s distorted recollections of memories (and even events that never happened) may seem like blatant lies to a family caregiver, the truth is that “individuals who confabulate have no recognition that the information being relayed to others is fabricated.”
Delusions are another type of false belief that can present in elders with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Unlike confabulations, which are related to memory recall, delusions tend to affect multiple aspects of a dementia patient’s behavior across a variety of situations. Paranoia or suspicious delusions
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