A monthly article brought to you by Senior Services Memory Support Programs
In our last article, we learned all about the various types of behavioral expressions. Here are some ideas to help you and your loved one overcome challenging behaviors.
The two main therapeutic interventions that we will explore are validation and redirection. Validation is defined by accepting the values, beliefs and reality of a person, even if it has no basis in your reality. A basic principle of validation is that all people have a desire to feel valued and be treated as unique individuals no matter how disoriented they are. We must begin to understand how to live in the world of dementia. If you can be empathetic in this way, it can build trust, reduce anxiety and restore dignity with your loved one.
Some specific techniques when using validation therapy may include:
- Accept the person where he or she is
- Help the person who is disoriented reach his or her own goals
- Do not argue about the “truth” or offer “facts”
- Refrain from saying, NO! Turn this into, Yes, …
- Use gentle touch
- Use a clear, soft, warm, loving tone of voice
- State observations of the situation; “Mr. Johnson, you sound upset.”
- Share perceived feelings (validate):
- “You feel alone without Sarah and miss the places that you used to go together
- “Yes, I understand that you want to go home. I would like to go home too!”
Validation therapy can be very beneficial when working with people with dementia. It can restore self-worth to the person and can reduce stress and anxiety. Validating your loved one can reduce the need for chemical and physical restraints and minimizes the degree to which the person withdraws from the outside world.
Redirecting is a simple technique of appearing to agree with the person, but getting them to go in a different direction (either physically or conversationally) without them thinking they are being pushed into it. This technique will allow you to build rapport and a relationship with the person. Redirection could include hobbies or projects, a less stimulating area or a non-threatening conversation.
Validation and redirection will be successful if you have a positive attitude and a general respect for the person with a cognitive impairment. If you acknowledge that the person is experiencing painful feelings and then validate/redirect them, these feelings will diminish. If you choose to ignore painful feelings, they will gain strength and can become a toxic repetitive behavior.
What should you do if these techniques fail? Change your approach. What works today may not work tomorrow. If you are able, allow the person and yourself some time to be alone and calm down. Lastly, ask yourself, is this a problem for me or for the person living with dementia?
When you start to notice memory changes, seeking early detection is key. Senior Services offers an array of memory support programs including confidential memory screenings to obtain a cognitive baseline, early memory loss programs, and educational classes along with support from Seasons Adult Day Health Services. If you or someone you know is experiencing increasing changes with their memory and could benefit from additional services, please contact Amy Sheridan, Family Support and Activity Manager at 989-633-3764.
Check out our section, Our Mind Matters, next month as we discuss how to organize the day and create a routine.