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TOOL 1 – YOU

WE OURSELVES ARE THE MOST POWERFUL DEMENTIA CARE TOOL THERE IS

The degree to which a person with dementia co-operates depends mostly on us. Thus, turning yourself into a care tool makes your daily care tasks easier. It costs nothing, is easy to do and has a huge impact! What is more, there are no side effects.

On this page I explain how you can become a care tool yourself. You can also watch the video.

The benefits:
more co-operation, more contact and more (work) satisfaction, less violence and less problematic behaviour.

MusicShelter-INTRO-Tool-1-v2
Short intro 2.20 min
MusicShelter-Tool-1-You
Tool 1 complete 15 min.

WHEN YOUR DAILY CARE BECOMES EASIER YOUR MOOD IMPROVES

Your improved mood is sensed directly by the individual with dementia – thus the individual with dementia will cooperate more easily.

This makes you happier once again. Moreover, this increased happiness improves cooperation with the individual with dementia once more.

Now the care snowball starts to roll and will become bigger and bigger. How good is that? This can be easily realised, just like Debby does in the case story of Mrs. Abbyton & Debby.

PUTTING IT SHORT AND SIMPLE: WHAT HAPPENS TO A BRAIN WITH DEMENTIA?

For the sake of simplicity, we will divide the brain into two parts, upper and under brain. In the upper brain you find the understanding & thinking departments which you need, for example, to get to work on time.

You need to consider “What time do I have to leave to get to work on time?”, or understand how the car operates or how the public transport system works.

Without good working understanding & thinking departments you will never arrive in time for work.

The under brain manages the basic life systems. Here you find the empathic department and the amygdala. The latter can cause quite a bit of trouble in the case of dementia. More about the amygdala later.

The dementia haze shows up in the upper brain making the departments understanding & thinking operate less smoothly.Thus, someone with dementia responds to you or their environment based on poor or non-functional understanding & thinking departments.

By now, you probably understand the sometimes strange responses from people with dementia. Please do not blame them! It is the dementia haze, that’s the guilty one.

MORE DEMENTIA, MORE EMPATHY

In the under brain, empathic feelings grow ever more strong, as the dementia fog thickens.

As a result, the individual with dementia becomes more sensitive to the emotional atmosphere, the environment, and to people’s inner feelings.

This is why the degree of co-operation of someone with dementia depends mostly on us. It is why a smile from the heart is so important.

Communication through empathy by Naomi Feil

THE SMILE FROM THE HEART

This is paramount, since people with dementia can sense how you approach them. They can sense if you are in a hurry, have a bad mood, and whether or not you harbour attention and respect for them.

See the person, not the dementia, give a smile from the heart. It allows you to break through the dementia haze, make contact and encounter more co-operation and less aggression.

It costs no money, no time, with zero side effects. Try it out for free!

Gladys Wilson & Naomi Feil
The real Patch Adams about healthcare
laughter is the best medecine The movie Patch Adams

WHAT DOES THE AMYGDALA DO AND WHY IS IT A TROUBLEMAKER IN THE CASE OF DEMENTIA?

The amygdala helps us to survive in life-threatening situations by activating our fight and flight response.

For example: When I am walking in the jungle and I hear the sound of cracking branches and lions roaring, my amygdala screams danger and takes over, so that without thinking I start running for my life.

However, when I walk there often and I know there is a fence between the lion and me, the next time I walk there and hear cracking branches and lions roar, my amygdale will still be activated.

Yet due to my capacity to think I tell my amygdale, “it’s okay, there is a big fence, go to sleep, no need to run for my life.”

Only in the case of dementia, my understanding and thinking department is working poorly and I cannot tell my amygdale to go to sleep.

So every time I walk there and I hear cracking branches and a lion’s roar, I will start running for my life. Therefore, we must not awaken the amygdala in people with dementia.

MRS. ABBYTON & DEBBY LAST NIGHT DEBBY HAD A QUARREL WITH HER BOYFRIEND. THIS MORNING, SHE IS LATE AT WORK AND BEHIND SCHEDULE.

Irritated and rushed, Debby bursts into the room of Mrs. Abbyton. Mrs. Abbyton has dementia and is still asleep, but as a result of Debby’s noise and her coldness, Mrs. Abbyton startles awake.

In the dimly-lit room, Mrs. Abbyton sees someone approaching her fast. Mrs. Abbyton’s amygdale switches on and yells “Danger! Danger!”.

The flight mode is on, but since Mrs. Abbyton cannot run away, she shouts “Leave me alone! Go away!”. But Debby is late and behind schedule and wants to hurry up. She takes Mrs. Abbyton by the arm and tries to get her out of bed.

Now the fight mode has been activated: Mrs. Abbyton hits Debby! Furious, Debby leaves the room, slamming the door behind her.

During lunch, Debby tells her colleagues they need to watch out for Mrs. Abbyton, because she is violent. From now on, Debby’s colleagues approach Mrs. Abbyton with caution and anxiety.

Mrs. Abbyton senses the new attitude of the nursing staff (her empathy increases) and she does not respond well to it. She shows less cooperation and there are more violent incidents.

Within six months, Mrs. Abbyton does not speak anymore and she spends entire days in bed.

But Mrs. Abbyton is not violent. Mrs. Abbyton cannot help that her understanding and thinking do not function very well. She cannot help her amygdala taking over. She never asked for her dementia.

The cause of Mrs. Abbyton’s violence is Debby’s bad mood. Debby should have thought of this before she entered Mrs. Abbyton’s room:
– Mrs. Abbyton has dementia
– Her empathetic feelings are strong
– Her understanding and thinking functions poorly
– Therefore, I must be careful not to activate Miss Abbyton’s amygdala

A different start of the day
Debby stands in front of Mrs. Abbyton’s room. She is aware of her irritation and frustration caused by the fight with her boyfriend. With these emotions she cannot go in, she knows.

She takes a deep breath from her nose to her stomach, breathes out through her mouth and repeats this three times.

 

Now, with her emotions more in check, she gently knocks on the door and with a smile on her face slowly enters the room, softly saying, “Good morning, Mrs. Abbyton, it’s Debby”.

While Debby opens the curtains and prepares things in the bathroom, she hums a popular tune from Mrs. Abbyton’s childhood days.  Slowly, Mrs. Abbyton awakens, she recognizes the song and it brings back memories.

Softly she starts singing the song and senses Debby’s smile from the heart, she feels good and safe.

Debby reaches out her hands and automatically Mrs. Abbyton takes them. While they both sing and hum together, the morning ritual begins without problem and runs virtually automatically in perfect Harmony.

Difficult question

While she is being dressed, Mrs. Abbyton asks if her son has already gone to school. Debby does not say, “Your son is already married and has children of his own,” neither does she lie by saying her son has just gone to school.

Instead, Debby asks, “Is he doing well in school?”. Instantly, Mrs. Abbyton starts talking about how her son is doing in school.

Still discussing school stories, they walk to the living room together, where Debby begins folding napkins and, without asking, gives Mrs. Abbyton a pile of napkins.

Normally, Miss Abbyton does not dare to do things, as she knows, deep down inside, she makes mistakes and does things wrong. But now she starts, nearly automatically, folding the napkins, since she senses that Debby does not mind her making mistakes.

What a liberating feeling to be allowed to do things without feeling the pressure to do well and without the fear of making mistakes.

What a wonderful feeling to be needed again. After a lifetime of working and caring for her husband and children, Mrs. Abbyton has missed that feeling.

What a wonderful girl this is, she must introduce her to her son. So instead of ending up not speaking and spending entire days in bed, Mrs. Abbyton helps the nursing staff and is one of the happymakers in the house.

In a setting where people with dementia feel they are allowed to make mistakes, be forgetful and are not judged and condemned, where they are accepted as they are, they are not afraid to speak or do things.

Constant correction causes people with dementia to withdraw into themselves and sink further and faster into the dementia fog.

In a liberating and stimulating environment, people with dementia can rise above themselves and may surprise you with what they are still capable of how much they are still able to learn. This means more fun for the caregiver as well as the individual with dementia.

LIBERATING & STIMULATING

TIPS FROM RIP 🙂

Read The Validation Breakthrough by Naomi Feil It a well-written book with lots of practical examples.

Validation is a practical way of communicating with and managing problematic behaviour in elderly people with Alzheimer’s-type dementia. It helps reduce stress, enhances their self-worth and dignity, and increases their happiness.

Since its introduction in 1989, validation has helped thousands of professional and volunteer caregivers improve relationships with residents and loved ones with dementia.

Caregivers who use these techniques validate the feelings of elderly people with dementia, rather than focusing on disorientation and confusion.

What is Validation from Naomi Feil?
The Four Phases of Resolution with Naomi Feil
Great advice from Naomi Feil

GO SEE THE MOVIE PATCH ADAMS WITH ROBIN WILLEMS

This movie shows us that the most important thing in healthcare is “the human connection”. Go watch the movie tonight. If you are a caregiver, it will give you a positive boost.

If you work in healthcare, it will add more depth to your work and perhaps you will do things differently tomorrow.

After struggling with depression in a mental hospital, Patch Adams decided he wanted to become a medical doctor.

He enrolled at Virginia Medical University but was disillusioned with the school’s clinical perspective on patient care Patch Adams the movie with Robin Willems

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TOOL 1 IN A NUTSHELL

  • Approach people with respect (The smile from the heart)
  • Understand dementia and the brain (increase in empathy)
  • Centering (balancing your emotions)
  • Accept the signs and symptoms of dementia (do not mind their mistakes)
  • Go along (but never lie)
  • Talk with (never talk about the individual in their presence)
  • Create a free, non-threatening ambiance

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