Teepa Snow is a dementia ‘expert’, and one I have great respect for. The image comes from her website, and is part of a promotion called Teepa Online. With permission, I have added her 5 tips for better dementia care as todays blog, and I have added one which I believe belongs at the top of her list… I definitely recommend you go to her website and join her newsletter mailing list.
Firstly, stop talking about PEOPLE with deMEntia as challenging behaviours
Teepa Snow’s 5 Tips For Better Dementia Care
© Teepa Snow, Positive Approach, LLC
Teepa Snow is a dementia care and education specialist whose teaching style has won her fervent admirers among caregivers North America. An occupational therapist by training, she has been called “the horse whisperer of dementia” because of her remarkable skills.
Her personal mission is to better the lives of people with dementia—as well as the lives of their caregivers—by sharing what she has learned.
Snow, who is based in North Carolina, has 30+ years of experience working with dementia. She gives workshops across North America, has her own YouTube channel and website offering free video education, and is the creator and founder of Positive Approach™ to Care producing DVD education, and now offering facility and professional dementia certification programs.
It can be difficult, frustrating and confusing to care for people with dementia. When frustration mounts, these 5 tips from Teepa Snow will help to improve the situation for caregivers and the people that they care for.
- STEP BACK
When an interaction is not going well, you have a choice—you can push your agenda, and watch things get worse, or you can step back and think. What’s happening is more complicated than you think. In your effort to be helpful you may have created a problem. The person who is challenging you is doing the very best that they can. Stop judging them.
You need to be a really good detective. Your brain works better than theirs, so use it! Step back and assess their abilities. Know what you are working with.
Try to figure out what might be driving them—what are you seeing, what are you hearing? What might be their emotional need? Their physical need?
What are they trying to communicate? You need to see it from their point of view.
- RESPOND (DON’T REACT)
What you thought would happen didn’t happen. The person did not react the way you wanted (& expected) them to. You’re getting frustrated and you’re getting angry. What to do?
Stop reacting: Stop trying to correct, stop pointing out “errors”, stop trying to fix things. Stop raising your voice and stop pushing. “Remember, I already told you that” —have you been repeating that? Just stop! Don’t argue with them. You have to get out of that mode!
Do use the words they have given you. It’s called reflective narrative language. Repeat back to them what they have said to you— acknowledge and validate what they are feeling. It is not about right and wrong. You may have to apologize and say: “I’m sorry, you’re right.”
- MAKE PLANS—BUT EXPECT THEM TO CHANGE
Create a plan, think it through, and get organized. Have a schedule. You know what you want to happen. However, you have to be flexible. If your plan isn’t working, you can’t force it! It’s part of your agenda. Adjust your plan. It was just a plan! Figure out where to go from here. Have alternatives ready: Plan B, Plan C and Plan D.
- FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU CAN/CAN’T CONTROL
You need to quit trying to control what you can’t control. You can’t control their dementia or their past (who they’ve been & what they like). You can’t control/fix/change their behaviour.
You do have some control over their environment—their physical & sensory environment, the objects they use—& how they use their time. What is the most important thing that needs to be done? What will they do with their day?
Pay attention to what helps them to feel valued and important, to when they relax and build energy. What is the most important thing that needs to get done? How will they spend their day?
You can figure out how to get yourself under control—& you can build your skills and knowledge to do the right thing. Change what you can change. Let go of the rest.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
When it’s not working—when something you tried to do didn’t work, when you’re getting frustrated or angry—you need to take a time out. Step out of the situation. Take at least 3 deep breaths—breathe in and out, deeply!
When you are frustrated, angry, or in despair, the person you are caring for picks up on—and reacts to—your stress level. That’s when you’re no good to them or to yourself.
Breathing deeply will help you get back to neutral, lower your emotional level, and help you regain perspective. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
This is hard work.
For more information about Teepa Snow, please visit teepasnow.com.