How Validation Therapy Benefits Elderly People with Dementia

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Many dementia caregivers have difficulty communicating with their senior loved ones. Dementia can leave seniors disoriented, and it can negatively impact their verbal skills. Validation therapy, a holistic treatment method, can help caregivers effectively connect with their loved ones.

What Is Validation Therapy?

Validation therapy was first developed by social worker Naomi Feil in the 1960s and ’70s. She wanted to create an effective template for communicating with seniors with dementia—one that respected their emotions and needs. Instead of seeing dementia-related disorientation as an incomprehensible symptom best ignored, validation therapy emphasizes compassion. 

Compassion is one of the most important qualities in an effective caregiver. Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Des Moines, IA, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

What Is the Core Belief of Validation Therapy?

Your loved one’s feelings and needs are central to this mode of therapy. The validation method tries to provide a platform that allows seniors to express feelings and have those feelings heard by their caregivers. It proceeds from the belief that dementia-related disorientation is the manifestation of a deeper challenge. If your loved one seems confused or irritable, he or she may be trying to resolve an unfinished conflict. Your loved one may try to express this conflict in movements rather than words, and if he or she doesn’t feel heard, shutting down entirely is a possibility.

How Can Caregivers Resolve This Conflict?

Practitioners of validation therapy can resolve conflict by listening to their loved ones with undivided, empathetic attention. Instead of brushing off your loved one’s complaints, establish eye contact, nod your head, and make him or her feel valued. According to the validation method, the negative feelings that fuel disorientation are mitigated by validation. When seniors receive compassionate attention, they feel mollified rather than overlooked or belittled. 

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Des Moines families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care.

What Is Reality Orientation?

Because empathy is the heart of validation therapy, many of the techniques ask caregivers to look at the world from the senior’s perspective. Instead of trying to reorient the senior within our reality, the caregiver tries to step into the senior’s reality. For example, many seniors with dementia quickly forget recent events and activities. If your loved one asks, “When am I going to visit Susan?” on the trip home from lunch with Susan, you may be tempted to say, “You just visited Susan ten minutes ago.” This attempt to reorient your loved one to your reality may distress him or her.

Instead of replying to disoriented statements with facts, respond to the underlying emotions. Asking about visiting a friend might mean your loved one misses the friend and cares about him or her. Respond to the query by saying something like “You and Susan have known each other for years, haven’t you?” or “Do you remember how you first met Susan?”

What Other Techniques Can Caregivers Use?

When seniors have difficulty with simple skills such as brushing their teeth or folding their laundry, caregivers can invoke the power of prior victories. If your loved one is having a difficult time doing his or her hair, you might ask, “Do you remember how you used to part your hair on the side?” By reminding your loved one of the fact that he or she has successfully solved this problem in the past, you may be offering the boost of confidence needed to conquer it in the present.

Dementia is a challenging condition for seniors and their caregivers. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Des Moines, IA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438.

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