When we are working with someone who has a memory impairment, it is always important that we reassure them. They are trying to make sense of their surroundings. It is important to constantly reassure them they are safe. Even if communication fails, make sure you are reassuring them that everything is alright.
Why Is Reassurance So Important To Those That Have A Memory Impairment?
It is important to know that those with memory impairments have a decreased ability to know what is happening. They aren’t able to communicate as well with you about what they are feeling or thinking. For instance, they could be in pain and not know how to tell you. They could be hungry and not be able to find the words to say so. While these issues will vary depending one what stage of dementia they are in, reassurance can help in all stages.
Is It Okay To Take A Step Back?
If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is okay for you to say, “I will be right back.” Allow yourself to leave for a bit and then come back with reassurance. It is important that you are in control of how you are feeling in order to help someone with dementia know that everything is going to be okay.
How Can You Reassure Someone With A Memory Impairment?
When talking to someone with dementia or another memory impairment, you should use a soft, friendly voice. Be sure that you are paying attention to your facial expressions, as well. While you might have things going on in your personal life, if you let that come through when talking to someone with a memory impairment, it could make things much worse. For instance, if you just had a fight with your significant other and look angry, even if you aren’t angry with the person with the memory impairment, they will see it on your face. They will think you are angry at them and wonder what they did. This could cause behaviors. Just make sure you are friendly at all times. Be sure that your voice and face match the friendliness, too
What Else Can Help To Reassure Someone With A Memory Impairment?
You can reassure someone with a memory impairment by giving them a gentle touch. This can help calm them. Be sure that you touch them from the front on their shoulder. For instance, you could say “Hi, Miss Dorothy. It is good to see you today”, while touching their shoulder. Make sure you validate however they are feeling, as well.
How Can You Reassure Someone With A Memory Impairment If They Are Agitated?
One of the interesting things about dementia is that oftentimes, when someone is agitated, we have a tendency to want to calm down. We don’t want to join them in the emotion. Instead, if they are agitated about something, it’s okay to be upset with them. That is how you validate what words aren’t going to validate.
For instance, if you were to say, “You know what, I didn’t realize that was missing. Let’s go see if we can find it.” – or something to that effect, this could help reassure them. Join them in the moment, redirect them, and then help them to move on. They are in the moment and you should be too. By doing so, you are going to help reassure them that everything is okay and they are going to be alright.
Resources: Carmen, Speech and Language Pathologist from Encompass Health
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