Caring for someone who has developed Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia can be a challenging yet very emotionally rewarding experience.
However, many professional caregivers have learned that adopting a Positive Approach to Care™ for dementia can substantially benefit them and the person they are caring for.
From our rehabilitation services to our fine dining facilities, we routinely see how even the smallest differences in how we approach caregiving can greatly affect the quality of life for our residents.
A Positive Approach to Care™ for dementia patients is just one of many tools available in our caregiving toolbox, but one we rely on almost every day.
In this article, we will explore several advantages to maintaining a positive mindset, discuss practical strategies to employing a positive approach—even beyond just caregiving—and provide tips on maintaining this approach through your caregiving journey.
The benefits and power of positive thinking
A Positive Approach to Care™ for dementia involves focusing on the abilities and strengths of the individual with dementia rather than their limitations.
This mindset, founded by dementia expert Teepa Snow, is rooted in the principles of positive thinking and has been shown to have numerous benefits for everyone.
Improved stress management
A positive mindset can help caregivers maintain better effectiveness by helping them focus on the aspects of caregiving that bring joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment.
This change in perspective can reduce any possible feelings of frustration, stress, or negativity that can sometimes affect caregivers.
Enhanced emotional well-being
The power of positive thinking connects strongly to emotional well-being. By focusing on the many positive aspects of caregiving, caregivers can experience increased happiness, motivation, and self-esteem.
Better physical health
Negative emotions can take a toll on one’s physical health, no matter what sort of career or task you might have taken on.
By adopting a positive approach, anyone can potentially reduce the risk of certain stress-related health issues, like high blood pressure, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.
Benefits for the person with dementia
Improved quality of life
A Positive Approach to Care™ can help individuals with dementia feel valued, respected, and understood. This approach can enhance their overall quality of life, as they are encouraged to participate in meaningful and enjoyable activities.
Reduced behavioral symptoms
By focusing on the person’s strengths and abilities, caregivers can help minimize behavioral symptoms common in dementia, such as agitation, aggression, and depression.
Enhanced emotional connection
A positive approach can help deepen the emotional bond between the caregiver and the person with dementia as they engage in meaningful interactions and shared experiences.
Strategies for implementing a Positive Approach to Care™ for dementia
A recently published article by Johns Hopkins expert Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., shows how adopting a positive approach to dementia care requires conscious effort and practice. The following are some practical strategies to help you get started with PAC.
Focus on abilities and strengths
Instead of dwelling on the limitations of the person with dementia, concentrate on their remaining skills and capabilities.
Encourage them to participate in activities that align with those abilities and celebrate their achievements together with them. Sharing in the small triumphs can go a long way.
Be flexible and adaptive
Dementia, unfortunately, is a progressive condition. The needs and abilities of any person with dementia will naturally change over time, so we’ve learned to be open to adapting our caregiving strategies and finding creative solutions to challenges when they arise.
Maintain a sense of humor
Laughter can be a powerful coping mechanism. Diffusing tension and releasing stress can do wonders for your ability to find opportunities for enriching your lives. That’s why we try to share laughter and light-hearted moments with our residents.
Create a supportive environment
Surrounding the person with dementia with familiar objects, soothing colors, and comforting sounds can have good benefits. These small environmental improvements can help create a sense of safety and security, which can promote a sense of calm and well-being.
Practice empathy and compassion
By putting ourselves in the shoes of the person with dementia, we try to understand their perspective and emotions.
These simple moments of conscious empathy can help caregivers respond with kindness and compassion much easier. This approach can be especially useful when facing one of the more challenging days.
Learning as much as possible about dementia, its symptoms, and the various care strategies available can help greatly. Knowledge is power, and being well-informed can help you make informed decisions and hopefully provide the best possible care.
How to maintain a positive approach in the face of challenges
It’s important to acknowledge that caregiving for someone with dementia can be challenging, and maintaining a positive approach may not always be easy. To help us stay positive, even in the face of adversity, we regularly suggest the following to our staff members.
Connecting with fellow caregivers, attending support groups, or speaking with a therapist or counselor can be one of the smartest moves for a caregiver.
Sharing your experiences and receiving guidance from others frequently turns out to be an invaluable strategy for maintaining a positive mindset. You also have the potential to make personal connections that can last a lifetime.
Engage in self-care
Caring for yourself is essential in maintaining a Positive Approach to Care™ for dementia. It’s important to ensure everyone, not just caregivers, gets enough sleep, eats well, exercises regularly, and engages in activities that bring them joy and relaxation.
Set realistic expectations
Accepting that there will be setbacks and challenges along the way is important. We encourage everyone to be gentle with themselves and recognize that we’re all doing our best in a difficult situation that can make a big difference in someone’s life.
Celebrate small victories
Acknowledge the progress and achievements you and the person with dementia make, no matter how small they may seem. Reinforcing a positive outlook can be a great provider of motivation for you both to continue your journey together.
A Positive Approach to Care™ for dementia—the bottom line
By adopting a Positive Approach to Care™ for dementia, caregivers and the individuals they care for can experience numerous benefits, including improved quality of life, reduced behavioral symptoms, and enhanced emotional connections.
The dedicated staff at The Kensington Falls Church has learned over the years that focusing on abilities and strengths, being flexible and adaptive, and seeking support when needed can make a meaningful difference in the lives of loved ones with dementia.
Within our memory care community, we see the struggles and triumphs—both big and small—that our residents have experienced.
We also frequently hear from our staff members how a positive approach and attitude can go a long way to enriching the lives of themselves and everyone around them.
Reach out to us if you’re keen to learn more about caring for those with dementia through a Positive Approach to Care™ or are interested in joining our caregiving family. Kensington Falls Church could be the best decision you ever make.