Help Others Feel Heard
As humans, we have a deep, inherent need to feel valued and acknowledged by those around us, and this need for validation doesn’t fade as we age. Those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s have often experienced a significant shift in their worlds. They may need the comfort and support of feeling valued even more than the average person. Their lives have been changed in an irreversible way and knowing those around them care, can help ground them and make them feel valued.
What is Validation Therapy?
When talking with people, we show we are listening by nodding our heads or acknowledging their comments with other visual and vocal signals. These signals inform the other person that we care and are interested in what they have to say. Validation Therapy is a form of active listening and communicating with those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, focusing less on the facts of the conversation and more on the emotional connection.
Though you may have to agree with a non-factual statement or something that has been repeated often, Validation Therapy is intended to make the person talking feel respected and their comments valued. Often these people can feel dismissed and marginalized by those around them. Engaging in Validation Therapy will help them feel heard and appreciated.
Validation Therapy for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients
Those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are often confused and can be non-logical in their conversations. This doesn’t mean that what they are saying or thinking is invalid. Many people with these diseases are attempting to piece together their thoughts and take care of what they perceive as unfinished business. With this in mind, Validation Therapy is centered on a person’s needs. Validation Therapy can help put a person at ease, knowing they are heard and understood by their loved ones.
Techniques of Validation Therapy
The Validation Breakthrough is an informative book by Naomi Feil, which describes the eleven principles of Validation Therapy. If you want to begin using Validation Therapy with your loved one, here are a few tips to get started:
- Be prepared. When having a conversation with your loved one, you’ll need to set aside your own feelings and focus on the needs of your loved one. Listen intently and make it a point to acknowledge, without trying to correct or refocus their thoughts.
- Remember, they are most likely attempting to reconcile something in their lives. And, while they cannot learn new coping skills, talking about their past and how they solved problems then may help them reconcile their thoughts now.
- Use gestures to make it apparent you are listening. Maintain eye contact and, if they are comfortable with it, hold their hand or use some other form of physical contact to soothe them.
- Pay attention to the way you are talking. Do not argue, but use a clear, calm voice to respond and engage with them. Try not to ask them why they think or did something because they may not know, instead stick with asking the other “w’s” of who, what, where, or when to show you are engaged.
Making it a point to be supportive and an active listener when being with your loved one can have profound effects. Validation Therapy can help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s rectify their thoughts and aid them in the successful completion of thoughts and feelings they may be having. It can help them feel valued and loved.
At Surpass Living, we focus on the whole person, offering memory care services and taking care of the mind, body, and spirit of those who call Surpass home. Ready to learn more about life at Surpass? Schedule a tour today.