609-994-5320 sheli@akincare.com

Redirecting a person with Alzheimer’s Disease or any form of dementia is not an easy one. First off, let’s change the word “behaviors” to “expressions” for a more dignified description of what we are seeing. When someone is “acting out” it’s hard not to get frustrated or sad. If we redirect the way we are accustomed to, redirecting does not get to the root of the issue. Years ago, I learned to redirect a person with dementia and we were taught to redirect physically to “distract” the person. This is not the most effective tool in redirection.

When someone has an expression that needs to me managed, there is either an unmet need (hunger, thirst, a need to use the bathroom, being too cold or too hot, or they may be experiencing pain) or an emotion that needs to be addressed or validated. When we redirect by simply changing the subject or directing them to another location, not only are we not managing the emotion, but we are also not validating the person’s feelings.

Some of the positive feelings we are born with are love, joy, excitement, comfort and happiness. Some of our negative feelings we are born with are fear, sadness, anger, and grief.

To successfully redirect the person with dementia, we must validate the negative emotion they are feeling and find a way to shift it to a positive emotion before we move on to something else. This will increase their trust in you and help you to manage expressions in those you are caring for and result in less aggressive and catastrophic reactions.

For example, if a person with dementia expresses that they want to go home, we must remember they are not always looking for a physical house. How do we feel when we are home? We feel safe, comfortable, and surrounded by people and things we love. Many times when someone states they want to go home they are simply not feeling safe or comfortable at that moment. Instead of saying, “you are home!” Or “you live here now.” Start with the emotion. If someone is feeling a negative emotion when they are looking for their home, address the emotion by validating their feelings. “I see you are (angry, sad, afraid). I’m so sorry you feel that way. I would love to be able to help.” Then redirect in a way that redirects the emotion, not the person’s physical being. Once you let them know that they are safe, try shifting the conversation to “what did you like most about your home?” and help them to start thinking of things that make them happy and create a moment of joy.

Always remember to address the emotion behind the expression first. You will see a difference in the outcome of the redirection.

Want to learn more? Join us on the third Wednesday of the month for our monthly support group or sign up for the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Seminar! Akin Care Senior Services also provides Dementia Concierge Services which meet a family where they are in the dementia journey which can help you:

  • Receive personal support and education for family
  • Learn how to manage challenging expressions and keep your loved one safe.
  • Understand approaches that result in more positive interactions and better quality of life outcomes.
  • Have a plan in place before a crisis arises.
  • Understand how to pay for care and what steps you need to take to protect your loved one.
  • Enhance caregiver well-being and self-care

Akin Care Senior Services is here to educate families and professionals on resources available to them when managing a loved one or client with a dementia diagnosis. Whether it’s full-time in-home care or Dementia Concierge Services, we are standing by ready to help.