Confabulation is a type of memory distortion in which a person gives false or incorrect information to others. The key to recognizing confabulation is to recognize that the person is striving to engage with others around him rather than being willfully dishonest. Here is a guide to understanding confabulation in your elderly parent!
Confabulation in Dementia and Other Conditions
Although confabulation is most common in adults with Korsakoff syndrome (a kind of dementia linked to alcohol consumption), it has also been seen in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients. People with various diseases, such as a ruptured aneurysm, or schizophrenia, can experience confabulation.
Causes of Confabulation
Although theories differ, some research offers two possible explanations for why confabulation occurs:
- The knowledge had not been properly encoded in the brain. For example, there could have been certain distractions during the processing of the information that stopped it from being properly stored in the brain’s memory.
- It’s possible that over-learned knowledge is dominant. Typical life routines, well-known facts, or entertaining stories, for example, may push certain facts to the back of the mind, causing the individual to revert to inaccuracies instead of the truth.
The hippocampus, a part of the brain linked with encoding and memory, tends to be among the first structures in the brain to be disrupted by Alzheimer’s disease. According to research, those with dementia who have delusions or are aggressive are more prone to confabulate.
Benefits of Confabulation
It may seem weird to consider confabulation to be a positive trait, but when we consider it as a whole, we may identify some potential benefits and coping mechanisms. Based on a study, there are three positive functions of confabulation:
- Confabulation can assist your loved ones with dementia in making sense of their current situation.
- Confabulation can aid in the formation and maintenance of the feeling of personal identity.
- Confabulation can help your loved ones in interacting with people around them.
In simpler terms, it means that confabulation can help your loved ones with dementia to feel more positive about themselves and maintain some of their ability to communicate as well as engage with others.
Difference between Lying and Confabulation
Family members of dementia patients who confabulate frequently grow frustrated, believing that their loved ones are being purposely dishonest and fooling them. It’s vital to remember that, while incorrect, confabulation is an accidental outcome of dementia, while lying is a purposeful effort to falsify the facts. When you know the difference, it’ll be a little easier to deal with confabulation.
How to Respond
Rather than pointing out the truth, the greatest approach to confabulation in dementia is to accept and join them in their world. Arguing or reasoning with someone who has dementia rarely yields any results.
Validation therapy acknowledges that particular needs, memories, and past experiences typically influence behaviors and emotions, including the forming of memories, whether or not they are accurate. Embracing the person’s reality is sometimes more beneficial.
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If you’re planning to move your loved ones into a Memory Care community, why not do so at Discovery Village At Deerwood? We have a specialized program, SHINE Memory Care, that is specifically developed to help improve the standard of living and provide exceptional care for our residents with dementia or other memory-related conditions. To find out more, do contact us today!