Memory Care Guide

Building Bridges

It’s tempting to label the words and actions of loved ones as “difficult behaviours”. Instead, view this as “communication” and try to identify which basic human need your loved one is trying to meet. Also, try to make positive connections by initiating communication.

Respect

By celebrating your loved one’s individuality, you preserve their dignity. Show how much you respect them by:

  • Using their preferred name or nickname
  • Making eye contact when communicating
  • Speaking with a warm tone of voice 

Reminisce

You and your loved one can strengthen the social bonds that make it easier to be a good carer. Sharing memories helps in a variety of ways:

  • Reaffirm identity by connecting with their past
  • Recall pleasant experiences that bring joy and comfort

Bridge

Allow your loved one to hold a familiar item, one that’s similar to the item you’re using to provide care. This simple act can bridge the gap between feeling a loss of control and maintaining dignity:

  • When helping with grooming, hand your loved one a favourite brush or comb as you comb their hair
  • If your loved one requires your full assistance when dining, still place a piece of cutlery in their hand as you assist them with eating

Empathise

We may not have personally experienced all that an older person has gone through, but we all share the same emotions. Tap into your own experiences in order to acknowledge what your loved one is feeling:

  • Listen in a way that meets the human need for self-expression, love, belonging and self-esteem
  • Connect with body language and tone of voice, not just words

The 'Validation Method'

For many, the loss of recent memory means that the past begins to merge with the present, resulting in additional communication difficulties. Validation advocates that, rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to your reality, it is more positive to enter theirs. Try to listen to - and not correct - your loved one’s beliefs.