Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dementia Care: Don't Reorient; Validate

When a family member suffers from dementia you will be exposed to the delusions and general confusion that accompanies dementia.  Your 90 year old dad may tell you that he went fishing yesterday with his father when in fact he watched a TV episode about fishing.  When hearing these stories it can be tempting to reorient your loved one back to reality. This strategy of reorientation was a prominent school of thought in dementia care for many years.  However, Alzeheimer's is a progressive disease.  Reorienting your loved one back to reality will not reverse or stave off dementia.  In fact, reoreienting your loved one will often lead to negative emotions. Your loved one may become angry after being told that their belief is not true.  Take the instance described above.  If you told your dad that he couldn't have gone fishing with his father because his father was dead, the reorientation strategy would produce a negative emotion; your father may experience the loss as if for the first time.

Instead of reorienting a senior citizen with dementia back to reality, participate in their belief.  Ask your father what he and his father talked about while fishing.  The line of questioning can lead to happiness for your father and positive emotions.  This practice of participating in the resident's belief is a standard practice at http://santarosaseniorliving.com/ when positive emotions can be achieved.  In essence, validation of a delusion brought about by dementia can have a positive effect whereas reorientation can have negative ones.  Therefore, don't worry about 'curing' your loved one through reorientation; you can't.  Instead focus on letting your loved one experience positive emotions which will ultimately enhance their quality of life.  Remember, dementia is a progressive condition.  Dementia is not a disease that can be cured or reversed; it is the display of various symptoms such as confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. 

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