Too often we treat the seniors in our life the same way we treat children. This is particularly true of those who have dementia, Alzheimer's, and other conditions that may leave them confused, or unable to care for themselves. However, when you take away someone's dignity, and you don't treat them with respect, that hastens the downhill path a senior may be on. An alternative is to use validation therapy. Let's dive into what validation therapy is and how it can help seniors.
What Is Validation Therapy?
Developed over more than a decade by Naomi Feil, validation therapy is a unique form of therapy that involves listening to elderly seniors with dementia, connecting with them through empathy, and providing dignified care in the last stages of their lives. It revolves around communicating respect and helping seniors feel understood and acknowledged instead of dismissed.
This type of therapy involves communicating in a way that emphasizes the emotion of the conversation rather than the substance. Validation therapy can help calm agitation in seniors with dementia and discover how they are really feeling. While it requires a great deal of patience, and a lot of effort, validation therapy has some definite benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Validation Therapy?
If someone feels they aren't going to be listened to, or that they're a burden instead of a valued person, they are more likely to withdraw. This leads to pacing, agitation, frustration, and it can worsen symptoms of several different conditions. When you meet someone with validation, though, they are more likely to open up to you. Not only that, but they are more likely to feel comfortable approaching you, which can make a serious difference in how their condition progresses.
Seniors Feel Worthier and Valued
As you get older, you can do fewer things that you used to. And it's hard not to feel like a burden, or a failure, when you can't drive yourself, can't carry your own groceries, or have other, perfectly normal problems for your age. Validation therapy makes seniors feel valued, and it allows them to hang onto their dignity, even if they're struggling with serious conditions like Alzheimer's, dementia, and others.
Deterioration Is Often Slowed
There is no stopping a lot of the conditions that come with age, but validation therapy can slow them. If a senior's struggle is validated, and if they are treated as people rather than as residents, or like children, then it slows their deterioration. That means more good days, in addition to being able to struggle through bad days with greater ease than would otherwise be the case.
How Can You Implement Validation Therapy?
Here are some basic tips to help you communicate with your loved one through validation therapy:
Maintain eye contact. If your loved one likes physical contact, then hold their hand or stroke their cheek to further show that you are engaged and that you love them. However, it's important to respect boundaries.
Do not argue or get defensive. These behaviors will just agitate your loved one even more.
Use a loving tone. Do not raise your voice.
Set aside your own emotions and focus on the emotional state of your loved one. Pay attention closely and try to identify the underlying reasons for their agitation.
At Caring Senior Service, our expert staff is comprised of extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and trusted professionals who take pride in helping your loved one manage their daily activities. Contact us today to learn more!