Engaging at Home™

Building a Bridge Between Intuition and Reason

Caring for persons affected by dementia, more often than not, leaves caregivers questioning their decisions. We all make quick daily decisions that are intended to serve our loved ones in a positive and encouraging way. We don’t always get the result that we are looking for. The good news is that you are not alone. If we took a national survey, we would most likely discover that most caregivers have the same feelings.  

Information and advice are everywhere. An article in Psychology Today discusses the importance of trusting your intuition. This same article also confirms for us that intuition is rooted in science. Our “gut feelings” result from many sources of information and learning to balance reason with emotions.     
A similar article in Live Science reports that whether you call it a gut feeling, an inner voice, or a sixth sense, intuition can play a real part in people’s decision-making. Following your intuition means following the physical feelings your body gives you that you are making the right or wrong decision.  

As caregivers know all too well, things happen quickly. Understanding how to calm the situation will make the day go more smoothly and relax your loved one.  

Oakwood Creative Care has studied this issue for years and, working together with caregivers, industry experts, and dementia researchers, has developed a set of concepts that bridge intuition with reason. Oakwood has prepared a free one-page flyer for caregivers and family members that provides ways to improve communication and avoid confrontation. Download the flyer, post it where you can see it daily, and share it with family members.  

Approach the person from the front. A person with dementia may have a loss of peripheral vision. Often, they have tunnel or binocular vision. Approaching from the front may reduce fear or prevent them from being startled.  

When Possible, Look at the Person with Dementia. Look at the person with dementia, turn your face toward the loved one, ignore distractions, and make them the center of attention.  

Speak, Calmly, and be Patient Allow the person time to understand the information. Use short, simple sentences and limit the choices to two or three options when asking questions.  

Listen Closely Give plenty of encouragement and listen carefully as you look for clues about what they might be trying to communicate.  

Avoid Arguing and Correcting. Arguments with people living with dementia cannot be won and will often end in frustration for everyone involved. This is where intuition becomes important-ask yourself, “what is this person feeling.”  

Smile Warmly and Make Eye Contact. A person may not understand what you are saying, but they will certainly interpret the look on your face, your tone, and your body language.  

Respond to a Look of Distress. Offer comfort and encouragement, then try to solve the problem.   Watch for Signs of Change. Every day and every situation can be different. One caregiver stated, “what worked yesterday didn’t work today.” Remember to use verbal and physical cues and lots of encouragement.
Engaging at Home™ provides an at-home engagement program bringing love, compassion, and validation to those affected by dementia and their families. Reach us via email at info@engagingathome.com or by calling (602) 418-5196.
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