Out Toolkit incorporates key learning points that we share with you from years of experience to aid communication
We have seen how isolated, depressed and frustrated people can become when dementia changes interactions and communication. We know that carers sometimes feel at a loss and fear they cannot make a positive difference. But we also know that with the correct tools and an understanding of the principles behind these techniques, people gain new awareness. They gain new ways of being together, feeling more connected, uplifted, calmer, and more resilient. Anyone can connect and interact with people living with dementia; they may simply need a few pointers on where to begin.
Our research has included analyzing levels of engagement; noticing whether people were passive or active during the sessions and how alert or interested people were We’ve worked with people diagnosed with a range of dementias (Lewy Body; Alzheimers; Frontal Temporal Lobe; Vascular dementia; Korsakoff’s dementia; Binswanger’s disease; dementia related to head injury or other illness); and with people at different stages of dementia, including people confined to bed, unable to lift their head from the pillow.
We noted whether age or gender made a difference in the level of connection… or how materials were used; and how engaged carers were. We worked with people with dementia who also had different sight and hearing levels and a range of physical abilities. We noticed levels of interaction between people diagnosed with dementia with each other; as well as interactions between people diagnosed with dementia and their carers. We identified the benefits of different aspects of our toolkit.
Overall we observed that creativity is all-inclusive and that communication is always possible.
While all of this is very easy to write and to talk about for us, we know that a lot of the time, non-verbal communication can feel daunting. It may be something you are not used to noticing, so click here for tips on non-verbal communication (Samuels, 2007)… things we regularly use ourselves.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to continue communication no matter what stage of dementia your loved one or person you are caring for is at. It does not have to be long and complex conversation….but we’ll explain how deep it can still be in the Toolkit.
The range of benefits from simply communicating is extensive, and can even have positive health implications. The Dementia Toolkit offers you a starting point for breaking down any barriers you may feel are preventing you from creating the connections you desire and it offers several ways to continue creating meaningful interactions.
‘It’s all about connecting” (Marshall 2013)