When I read this article about a man who takes the time to connect with and care for elderly clients with dementia I was truly touched. Working with clients who have dementia and their families, I understand well how important respect and dignity is to both the client and those who love them.
Even when our loved one who is struggling with dementia is placed in a care facility such as a nursing home, we need to know that they are going to be cared for and respected. In order to ensure this, a client of mine, whose husband had dementia, brought in a photograph of her husband with a foreign leader to his care team in assisted living, and then in his nursing home. She did this so the team would understand and treat him like the intelligent and dignified person he was, even though, due to dementia, his impulse control was seriously impaired.
Maintaining Dignity as a Central Issue in Care
Focusing on dignity has become a central issue in care. For those working with elderly people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, many understand the importance of dignity and respect for their clients and those who love them. We can all imagine how painful it would be to imagine our loved ones being treated with disrespect or worse, abuse, while they are vulnerable and dependent on caretakers. In thinking about how to respect the dignity of those who may not be able to verbalize how they are feeling or what they want, here are a couple of points to keep in mind:
- Recognize that people with dementia have opinions and preferences. They like certain colors, foods, clothing, and other personal items, and they do not like others, in very much the same way the rest of us like certain things and dislike other things.
- Understand they are still able to feel happy and have a good time. These attributes should be honored and encouraged.
- Make an attempt to enter their world rather than telling them they aren’t in this world – the kindness of being in the moment with them is much more compassionate that pointing out deficits or asking “do you remember?”
- Speak to the person, not about them.
In all interactions and caregiving activities, do not treat the person as if they are unaware or unable to understand what is going on. Always assume they hear you, understand what is being said, and care about what’s going on.
Vera Kurlantzick is a certified Professional Daily Money Manager (PDMM®) by the American Association of Daily Money Managers. If you would like to learn more about daily money management, call to speak with Vera or fill out our contact form and click Send.