Validation Therapy is a communication technique that allows caregivers to better relate to Alzheimer’s/Memory Care residents by connecting with residents where they are on life’s journey on a given day. For example, if a resident sees themselves as a 35 year old working professional, then the caregiver joins the resident in their reality. This is primarily accomplished by accepting the values and beliefs of the resident without confrontation. Trying to reorient a resident to “facts” often is confusing and unsuccessful for the resident. The caregiver is putting themselves in the shoes of the resident, not simply by trying to move an individual’s attention from one thing to another; it is also about validating feelings and emotions.
A resident does not want to go to dinner as she states she is waiting on her husband to join her. The caregiver knows that the husband is deceased. If the caregiver tells the resident that the husband is not coming because he has died, it can often confuse and confound the resident who may well believe that her spouse has just died. This can cause the resident to grieve her loss all over again.
A better approach using Validation Therapy might be:
Resident: I don’t want to go yet. I am waiting on Charlie to come.
Caregiver: Charlie can’t come to dinner tonight, but I would love it if you joined me for dinner. I would like to hear more about Charlie, he sounds like a wonderful guy.
Resident: Oh yes, he was a wonderful husband! What are we having for dinner?
The key is to agree with the resident’s wants/needs but gently steer them through conversation to do something else – without the resident realizing that redirection is occurring.
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