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An elderly person or a person with dementia can be labelled ‘difficult’ or ‘challenging’ when perhaps a few minutes chat, a smile, a squeeze of the hand, can transform the way they feel and react.
Whilst it is difficult to always be up-beat when faced with problems it can be very rewarding to see the positive outcome of a challenging situation.
An example of such a positive outcome was encountered recently in a residential home. The lady concerned was a dementia sufferer, previously happy, but was becoming increasingly ‘challenging’ – verbally aggressive and kicking and biting the carers – with the result that the carers were now filling in a behaviour chart in her care plan. This behaviour appeared worse in the morning on getting up and having a shower – a particularly busy time for the day staff - and with one particular member of staff who, whilst an excellent ‘carer’, did not have a ready smile and who’s foreign accent, through no fault of her own, was very ‘hard’ and guttural. It was decided that perhaps the night staff might be able to help before going off shift and the rush of the day began.
By waking the lady with a smile and a squeeze of the hand, and with gentle encouragement, the preparations for her day were turned into a good experience. This lady enjoyed singing, so singing a couple of verses of her favourite songs with her helped. Perhaps previously the water for her shower had not been left to run and was not warm enough, the floor was cold, and the toilet seat, when she had only just woken up, was cold and hard. Running the water to the correct temperature, putting a towel on the floor to step on, and having a warm bath towel and a smile at the ready, the experience was turned from ‘institution’ to ‘spa’…!!
Making someone feel special doesn’t have to cost anything and this can be so important with the elderly or a dementia sufferer, or the person caring for them, and can have positive long-term outcomes.