Have you ever tried to talk with a disoriented person? If you have, you know just how difficult communication with them can be. Older adults that have dementia sometimes act like they live in a world of their own. They don’t observe time and space the same as we do, and because of this, in situations when they need help, it will be hard for us to provide it. Like you probably know, there’s no cure or way to reverse dementia, but specific treatments can help. Validation therapy is one of them. Because of that, we are going to do our best and explain just what this therapy is.
The Principles of Validation Theory
You have probably wondered if there is a reason why dementia patients act disoriented. The validation therapy tries to answer this. People who represent this therapy believe that to work with a dementia patient, you need to have a holistic approach. Their theory lies in the claim that patients with dementia exhibit certain types of behavior because of the changes their brain has undergone.
According to the promoters of validation therapy, people with dementia only want to deal with the issues that remain unfinished. But as they grow older, and their dementia worsens, they try to solve the problems with both verbal and non-verbal approaches. Sometimes negative emotions prevail, and they put out the non-verbal method of problem-solving, which can be handled with validation therapy. If the negative feelings are kept inside, symptoms of dementia only worsen.
To make things simpler, you need to understand that to help someone who is disoriented due to dementia, you need to see the world through their eyes. By understanding their behavior, you will give them your validation. If you follow validation therapy guidelines, all you need to do is to be empathetic towards people with dementia. The best way to show dementia patients your empathy is by communicating with them. Treat them with respect and avoid criticism and judgment. Dementia patients don’t like to be marginalized or belittled.
Reality Orientation and Validation Therapy
Validation therapy offers various techniques that can help patients feel better and lead an improved life. One method, for example, is based on the attempt, not to make the patient see the world from our perspective, but to better understand what they see from where they are standing and go from there.
One example is the dementia patient that asks for breakfast only minutes after they have finished eating. Validation therapy encourages you not to tell the patient that they just have finished eating but instead to ask them which food would suit them best now. You need to be supportive and give them a feeling of safety. Be satisfied that they have expressed their desires to someone who understands them.
Simple Validation Techniques
Dementia patients will struggle to solve simple problems. You must work with them and remind them daily how they were able to deal with similar situations earlier and with ease. Telling them of successes they had in the past when dealing with various problems can help them to find ways to deal with those they have today despite their condition.
Of course, trying to talk with someone who is living in a reality of their own might be frustrating, but feeling like that won’t improve the situation for anyone. The best direction to go is the one where there are no negative emotions. If a person is confused, avoiding an argument is the way to go. If you don’t do this, frustration is what awaits you. Sometimes you don’t even need words, just eye contact with a familiar person will do the trick. Not to mention a gentle word.
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