3 Benefits of Validation Therapy

By Ruby Cemental

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, this behavior may actually cause seniors to decline and become more frustrated. To help assist seniors with dementia, family members and caregivers can implement validation therapy. Let's dive into what validation therapy is and how it can help seniors.

What Is Validation Therapy?

Many of you may not be familiar with this therapy. So what is validation therapy? This type of therapy was developed 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. Validation therapy revolves around communicating respect and helping seniors feel understood and acknowledged instead of dismissed.

Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's may exhibit irrational and illogical behavior, which can be frustrating for those who care for them. Many may try to help the senior recognize or correct that behavior. However, validation therapy emphasizes communicating in a way that addresses the emotion of action or conversation rather than the substance. It is a way for family members or caregivers to enter the reality of the aging senior instead of trying to get them to snap back to reality.

Validation therapy can help calm agitation in seniors with dementia and discover how they are really feeling. It can help suffering seniors feel understood instead of dismissed. While validation therapy requires a great deal of patience and a lot of effort, validation therapy has some definite benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Validation Therapy?

Prevents Withdrawal

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 than 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 validation therapy 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 the 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. 

  • Focus on your loved one. 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. 

We hope that these tips can help you successfully implement validation therapy with your aging loved one. At Caring Senior Service, our expert staff is comprised of extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and trusted professionals who take pride in helping your loved ones manage their daily activities. Contact your local office today to learn more!

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Tags: Alzheimer's & Dementia, Therapy