Mary is concerned that her husband Harold hasn’t come home for dinner yet. She wonders if he’s working late but is worried that he hasn’t called. She hopes he hasn’t been in a car accident.
In truth, Harold died five years ago. But for Mary today, Harold is very much alive, at least in her mind. She keeps thinking he should walk in the door any minute.
Some family members, with the best intentions, might remind Mary that Harold has died. But hearing that news could upset and agitate Mary. For her, it could trigger the grief of losing Harold all over again.
To help seniors like Mary, we recommend a proven approach for caregivers and family members trying to understand what people living with dementia are experiencing. Known as the Validation Method of memory care support, caregivers learn how to enter the perceived world of those with memory loss rather than expect or demand that they accept reality.
Country Meadows is recognized nationally as a leader in Validation
Country Meadows became the first Authorized Validation Organization in the United States in 2001. Stephen Klotz, our Director of Validation, studied with the practice’s creator Naomi Feil and is a Certified Validation Master and Board Member of the Validation Training Institute. As a certified master, Steve has instructed professionals at retirement communities around the country on Validation and other aging topics, and is currently teaching students at York College.
Our work on Validation continues to receive national attention. Brian Goldman, MD, host of CBS Radio’s “White Coat, Black Art,” visited our York-South (Leader Heights) campus to observe Validation in action. In his new book, “The Power of Kindness,” he devotes a whole chapter to Country Meadows’ empathetic use of Validation with memory-impaired residents.
How we use Validation in all our memory care services
Our memory care co-workers use Validation to reduce anxiety and increase social comfort in residents with dementia. All staff members with our Connections Memory Support Services team are certified as Validation Associates. They listen with empathy and gently ask questions to help residents with memory loss express concerns and frustrations.
In Mary’s situation, a caregiver might ask her about Harold’s job or what she likes to cook for dinner to redirect her and ease her fears. This “validates” her perceptions while lessening her distress.
We use Validation as part of our Connections program to engage residents and comfort them through socialized activities. Families can use Validation as well by using open-ended questions. These are ones that ask “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” or “how” and can’t be answered with just “yes” or “no.” With these conversations, people with dementia feel heard and respected. This can lower their anxiety and encourage them to interact more with others.
For seniors with mild cognitive loss, we offer the Connections Club to reduce their frustrations and fears. For residents with more serious memory loss, we have a Connections Neighborhood memory care facility with secure entrances and exits and any needed support for daily personal care needs.
Our memory care support services also include intellectual stimulation with brain fitness activities, customized exercise programs and My Life Story projects to build meaningful bonds and connections.
Watch our Connections video to learn more about the program, its philosophy and services.
If you’re searching for memory care for a loved one, please contact us to schedule a visit to meet our staff and learn more about our Connections program. We also invite you to visit any of our 10 retirement communities in Pennsylvania or our Frederick, Maryland retirement community