The Keys to Connection-When Engaging with a Loved One or Client with Memory Impairment
Over the next three months, Inspired Memory Care will be sharing a Keys to Connection Three-Part Series. We invite you to introduce these techniques to your interactions with clients and loved ones, and hope they will empower you to create your best connections!
Steps to setting up your best interaction:
Be Present. To start your connection, we recommend you take a few deep breaths, put aside your tasks and be fully present. Persons with memory impairment (and all people for that matter!) appreciate your attention and can tell if you are distracted or thinking of a “to do” list while speaking with them. Remember, the individual can often best read and respond to your body language and emotions rather than your words. If you are rushing and distracted, he or she may react to this behavior and/or mirror it.
Assess the mood & environment. Observe your loved one or client for a moment before approaching. His or her body language, facial expressions, and environment can all be clues to unmet needs. Always ensure that your loved one or client’s physical needs are met before proceeding. If he or she is tired or uncomfortable, a shortened visit or time to simply relax together in a quiet environment is okay. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Ideas for relaxation during visits can include listening to favorite music, enjoying a hand massage, or simply watching movie scenes (YouTube is great for this) or a sunset together.
Be mindful that the vacuum cleaner, television, and peripheral conversations are white noise that can be hard for your loved one or client to filter out. Unless you are people-watching or celebrating a party, visit in a quiet, low-traffic area and limit the number of visitors your loved one or client is entertaining at one time. This will streamline and improve his or her processing of information and environmental stimuli.
If your loved one or client is angry you will want to give more space and use a more concerned tone of voice. If he or she is depressed or anxious, a gentle hand on the shoulder can serve as a signal that you care. If y