Naomi Feil, founder of Validation Therapy, shares a breakthrough moment of communication with Gladys Wilson, a woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000 and is virtually non-verbal. Learn more at http://www.memorybridge.org.
Catherine Bateman wrote this on September 4, as a hot topic on the NSW Department of health e-leaning site. She said:
“How we communicate with the person with dementia and how we interpret their way of expression is central to understanding the experience of the person with dementia.
I am reminded each day of the reality that communication is much more than words. In facts words account for only 7% of communication, tone 38% and body language 55% (Albert 1971). In interactions with and between persons with more advanced dementia, words can be seen more as an accompaniment or adornment rather than the main vehicle for communication (Kitwood, 1997).
When the person with dementia is unable to clearly express themselves in words, trying to understand and interpret what their tone and body language is telling us as well as being aware of the impact of our tone and body language can greatly support communication. For example, a person with more advanced dementia is unable to express their pain in words but can through their facial expression and body language. The ability to observe for these nonverbal signs is essential in the appropriate assessment and management of pain.
The more severe the dementia, the greater the need for special interactive competencies that support connection with and understanding of the person. These often involve gentle touch, music and validation therapy. The YouTube video by Naomi Feil, movingly demonstrates her interactive competencies with Galdy’s a resident who is nonverbal with advanced dementia.
From my personal and clinical experience, communication and how we interact with the person with cognitive impairment and their family carers is the most important aspect of care. Kitwood (1997), sees ‘positive person –work’ in dementia care being essentially that of interaction, according to the persons individual needs, abilities and personalities. This takes awareness, understanding and empathy on the part of the care giver and requires the gaining of information about person, their background and personal preferences. This can be done through the use of a personal or social profile. There are many great programs and resources that have been developed to assist care givers in communicating with the person with dementia at different stages of the disease progress.”