Is this the kindest way to cope with Alzheimer’s? Validation therapy, a new approach to dementia, suggests you should not force the sufferer to face reality.
“…. putting yourself in the other person’s reality rather than always trying to bring them into yours meant it could stop a lot of the frustration and anxiety dementia patients can feel when confronted and contradicted.”
Validation Therapy: what you need to know
“Validation is about being in the moment with the person,” explains Julia Pitkin, one of the first validation practitioners in the UK, who runs courses for professionals as well as working one-to-one with families (dementiasense.org). “Whereas contradicting can break down bonds, this approach is about keeping and strengthening that bond, so the person is more likely to feel calm and trusting, and accept help.”
– If your inclination is to say “But that didn’t happen”, bear in mind that being corrected can make a person feel devalued. To a person with dementia, the feelings are very real.
– Validation is not about colluding or lying. If a person keeps hunting for their deceased spouse, you might say: “I’m sure you miss him… how did you meet?” Distraction can be helpful. It is not recommended to pretend that you recently saw the person alive and well. “Deliberately misleading someone with dementia can undermine the authenticity of a trusting relationship,” says Kathryn Smith of Alzheimer’s Society.
– Avoid quizzing someone who has dementia. “Being unable to answer a direct question may cause a sense of failure,” Pitkin says. “Instead, gently steer them towards areas they feel comfortable talking about.”
See full article by Fiona Gibson, Daily Telegraph, 14th October 2015 here