Neurocognitive disorder such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia effects a persons thinking skills, judgement, memory, and the ability to communicate effectively. The L.O.V.E Approach uses four simple concepts to promote positive interactions, create meaningful relationships, and encourage less conflicts. This approach focuses on treating the "whole person"`rather than just treating the person's brain with medications to "manage dementia symptoms." When we begin to understand most "dementia symptoms" are actions to express feelings of boredom, loneliness, and unmet needs and not "problem behaviors" we can support the person as they attempt to communicate a need to find purpose and meaning in their day. By mastering the four simple concepts to Listen, Observe, Validate and Engage with your family member or friend, you can experience positive changes in your relationships, and your loved one will continue to feel purpose and meaning in their life and maintain independence longer.
Using these four concepts will enhance your ability to: listen and understand what the person with dementia is trying to express, observe changes in their emotional reactions, validate the person's efforts to express feelings, and become actively engaged to create a more positive experience/environment for the person living with dementia.
A person living with dementia cannot physically, cognitively or emotionally adapt their communication and comprehensive skills, but we can change our communication techniques by learning new ways to talk and listen and help the person feel valued, loved, and understood.
Understanding that people with dementia have difficulty with thinking skills and retaining new information (repeating questions that were just answered), or is unable use a familiar skill (such as a tv remote), we can approach the person with more empathy and compassion. Taking the word "remember" out of your vocabulary can reduce the feeling of shame and embarrassment the person will show, when the person is unable to remember or retrieve information.
If the person has aphasia (an acquired language impairment), information given to the person may not be received accurately (receptive language) or information the person is expressing (expressive language) and may have difficulty finding words thus creating frustration and embarrassment. Image the stress you feel when your loved one repeats the same question over and over. Now image the confusion, embarrassment, and shame the person feels when they hear "I already told you." The feeling of shame will last for some time, even after they forget why they are feeling shame. When a person repeats questions, the person has forgotten the answer they received earlier, and because of memory loss, they didn't even recall they had even asked the question in the first place. It is very confusing for a person with memory loss to not get an answer to a simple question. Now image how this can lead to constant conflicts.
Promoting a life of quality for the person living with dementia and their family members and friends is the foundation of the L.O.V.E. Approach. By listening, observing, validating, and staying engaged in life is key for living a life of quality, for the person, their family members, and friends. Offering a familiar routine and meaningful activities throughout the day to meet the physical, cognitive, social, spiritual, and the expressive needs using music and art, will benefit the person and you!
Learning a new skill takes practice. Enhancing your communication skills to better interact with a person living with dementia also takes practice and patience, but is well worth the effort as interactions will become more pleasant, meaningful and reduce stress for everyone. By gaining a greater awareness of how we talk and listen, relationships are enhanced and connections become stronger.
Engaging in Life with L.O.V.E. is a simple approach for communicating without conflicts.
Vicky Pitner, CTRS, CDP, has been a champion for supporting people living with neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and their families for over 40 years in both clinical and community settings.
Addressing dementia-related symptoms early is instrumental in maintaining a life of quality for both the person and the family. The word "dementia" has been and continues to be portrayed as having a hopeless, and debilitating life and perceived the person is "suffering" from dementia. The LOVE Approach sees the person as "living" with a chronic disability and can continue to have meaning and purpose.
The dual stigma for the individual and the family is the most significant barrier for the individual or the family to seek help or create a life of well-being. Vicky believes with better education and awareness of what dementia is, and is not, the stigma can be reduced, and families can become empowered and friends can stay connected and be a part of the person's life.
Vicky developed "Engaging in Life with L.O.V.E.: The Friends and Family Approach for Supporting Someone Living with Dementia” to help break through the stigma and fear and keep friends and families connected and promote well-being and shared moments of joy.
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Professional (CTRS)
Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP)
Certified Montessori Dementia Professional (CMSP)
Trained Health Rhythm Drumming Facilitator
Certified Holistic Life Coach Spencer Institute
Eden Alternative Associate Training
We are located on the beautiful Nature Coast of Florida and serve Tampa Bay and Beyond!
Just a phone call or email away!
It's time to stop tippy-toeing around the stigma of dementia and start living an engaging life!