People with Alzheimer's remember stroking and scars

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Louise Hay

People with Alzheimer's remember stroking and scars

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: December 14, 2021

There is a kind of generalized misconception: people with Alzheimer's or other types of dementia tend to disconnect from the outside world to enter their distant, unreal inner world. This is not true, and just by thinking that the person with Alzheimer's is different, they lose the US identity of in the face of society and its feelings lose their validity almost automatically.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of people with Alzheimer's, we will realize that it is normal to be afraid of the insistence of others, not knowing how to express what you need or feel, not understanding what we are told, not recognizing the people who come close every day, not understanding what others expect of us at all times.

We rarely put ourselves in the shoes of people with Alzheimer's. If we do, we will realize how scary and disconcerting everyday life can be. Then we will understand the distress or other emotional reactions that we see exaggerated by our "healthy" worldview.

"Person with dementia versus PERSON with dementia"

-Thomas Morris Kitwood-

The Validation Method: Person-Centered Therapy

In the last decade, person-centered patterns of attention and communication have re-emerged. These therapeutic models underscore the importance of validating and stimulating surrounding environments for people with Alzheimer's.

In other words they try to empathize with the person with dementia, to maintain their identity and generate an attitude understanding towards those "behavioral alterations" that so disconcert and generate discomfort between those who take care of them and not.

The authors who promote this model of attention highlight the need to preserve the principle of dignity of each person. It is therefore necessary to leverage empathy to tune into the inner reality of people with dementia.

The goal is to provide them with confidence and strength, making the person feel valid and able to express their feelings. Because only when a person can express himself does he regain possession of his dignity.

Because? Because validating means recognizing a person's feelings. Validating means telling her that her feelings are true. By denying the feelings, we deny the individual, we cancel his identity and, therefore, we create a great emotional void.

Basic principles of the validation method

The basic principles of the validation method are:

  • Accept the person without judging him (Carl Rogers).
  • Treat the person as a unique individual (Abraham Maslow).
  • Feelings that are first expressed and then recognized and validated by a trusted interlocutor will lose intensity. Feelings gain strength when ignored or rejected. "An ignored cat becomes a tiger" (Carl Jung).
  • All human beings are precious, no matter how disoriented they are (Naomi Feil).
  • When recent memory fails, we recover balance by recovering initial memories. When sight fails, one turns to the mind's eye in order to see. When hearing leaves us, we listen to the sounds of the past (Wiler Penfield).

People with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia need to connect with the world again

The latest Disney-Pixar movie, Coco, shows us in a very emotional way how we can reconnect with people with Alzheimer's, how can we have access to their skin, to their deepest feeling. He demonstrates this with "Remember me", a song that undoubtedly gives a tender flavor to the emotional harmony it arouses.

Losing the ability to express yourself verbally is not the same as not needing to express yourself. For this reason it is essential to adapt to the needs of people with this disease, to connect with their mental state and to be in a single feeling.

As Tomaino (2000) stated, “it is always surprising to see a completely separated person come back to life, distanced from the present due to an illness like Alzheimer's, when a familiar song is played. The person's response can range from a change of position to an animated movement: from sound to verbal response.

But there is usually an answer, an interaction. Many times those apparently delusional responses can reveal a lot about the subject's self-preservation, they can testify that personal stories can still be kept intact and remembered ”.

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