To correct or not to correct

February 7, 2021
September 7, 2022

Read a transcript of this video:

Sue – One thing that carers often say to us is that they’re challenged by some of the information that the person with dementia says to them, so they sometimes feel that what the person has said isn’t quite true, or that it seems to be made up. So it might be bits of information from one situation and bits of information from another, and they’ve put it together and come up with something that isn’t quite true. Also carers have said how sometimes they feel they’re being accused of things they haven’t done as well, and those things are really difficult for carers to deal with.

Lissy – They are aren’t they and I think the real challenge there is how do you respond to that, because when you know someone has said something that isn’t really accurate your kind of compulsion is that you know you want to correct it, but actually we know that can be quite a distress as well, so it’s really challenging to know what to correct and what not to correct.

Sue – It’s challenging but also there’s no sort of answer to it, is it. It sort of depends on your relationship with that person and each person has a unique relationship with another person. Sometimes we have people that we can argue with, or we can disagree with, but other people it’s better that we just go along with it. So there is no right or wrong answer, but I think the one thing that is really noticeable is that if you argue about facts in general then it tends to get us a little bit stressed and make us upset.

Lissy – Absolutely and I think the end result really is that you don’t want to cause an argument, and you don’t want to stress yourself, and you don’t want to stress that person. So I think for carers sometimes it feels like it’s going against their values doesn’t it, when they, when someone says something which they think “I don’t think that’s actually true”. But we know that actually that it can be “does it matter?”; does that thing matter that you’re correcting, is it important, can you just let that thing go? Because there may be times when you really do need to correct someone because perhaps it’s an issue of safety. So I think also it’s about picking the moment isn’t it?

Sue – Yeah, it’s choose your fights really isn’t it.

Lissy – Yeah

Sue – But I think you’re absolutely right. There’s this idea that don’t argue about facts and avoid confrontation because that’s much more comforting in the moment and it doesn’t sort of antagonise the situation. But the other thing that you said was that it goes against our values and we’re taught from the time we were tiny children not to lie. And so when you don’t sort of confront the person you kind of feel like your entering into the lie with that person which is incredibly difficult to sort of deal with isn’t it. So I don’t think it’s easy for carers to do this at all, but I would still say, usually the golden rules are: don’t argue over facts, avoid the confrontation, and as you said, think “what does it really matter?”

Ways to support each other
In this conversation, Sue and Lissy talk about how to decide whether or not to correct the person you care for
Everyday challenges
Thinking and planning