Responsive Care Partnering means interacting with a person with dementia in a way that they can understand and accept. A care partner must first accept the changes that prevent the meeting of old expectations. But not everything is lost. Certain skills tend to last longer than others. As the RCP identifies what these are and uses them, good communication will increase along with a decrease in mutual frustrations.
- Acceptance of change
- Using present skills
Acceptance of change
This is especially difficult for care partners who have lived with loved one for years and developed many mutual expectations. The natural response to irrational behavior or statements is to try to reorient.
- Explanations, defending or arguing DO NOT WORK. They just makes care partners feel frustrated and loved ones, discounted and unheard.
- Instead, join their reality. If they are having an uncomfortable hallucination, offer to get rid of it. "Here, I'll take them outside."
- Say "Yes, and..." instead of explaining or arguing. "Yes, and tell me about it..." provides the attention and respect we all want.
- Say "I'm sorry" instead of defending, even if you didn't do anything wrong.
Teepa Snow teaches "Phrases to Learn for Caregivers." (Seniors Helpers National)
Using Present Abilities
Some skills, such as using rhythm and understanding non-verbal gestures, last longer than understanding words. Responsive Care Partnering includes using these non-verbal skills along with talking:
Teepa Snow - Movement and rhythm of speech, what to say. From Alzheimer's Support Network.
Of course there are also other ways to use a person's still existing skills to improve interactions. The following video describes seven:
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