Learning how to redirect a dementia patient is often difficult. The concept itself is difficult to grasp.

Learning how to embrace the reality of a dementia patient is also difficult.

Learning how to redirect a person living with dementia and how to embrace reality are essential components of effective care giving.

Learning how to do this takes patience and a little practice.

Whenever possible you should include these two nonverbal communication techniques before redirecting.

First, if close by, take the person living with a dementia’s hand. Second, make sure you have their attention and SMILE. Also, try to respond in a steady voice. Keep your pitch low.

  1. I’m hungry, I’m starving

Some folk utter these words over and over every day. Usually staff / family caregivers inform the person that they have just eaten (often true), that they could not possibly be hungry, or that they have already eaten 3 times that day.

What caregivers fail to realise is that the person with a dementia cannot remember they have just eaten, cannot not remember what they have eaten that day, and that, in fact if they say they are hungry – they are hungry!

The fault lies in failing to embrace the patient/ individual’s reality. If they say they are hungry – even right after eating – then they ARE hungry. Who are we to determine how they are feeling?  Aren’t we all entitled to our own feeling, or for that matter, beliefs?

If you chastise the patient / individual, saying that they couldn’t be hungry,  it will  usually end in a horrible episode. For you and for them. Choose your battles wisely!

The next time a patient / individual with a dementia says ‘I’m hungry, I’m starving’, look at them, Smile and say, ‘okay, can you give me ten minutes to finish what I’m doing and we will eat’. I bet YOU will get a smile and that will be that! You have embraced their reality and that is what the individual needed.

You might be able to use this form of redirection in any number of situations. Smile and embrace the reality. You might be able to get away with one word – okay.

Good luck folks. Watch this space for more tips!

Even better, book a bespoke course tailored for your setting & clientele or attend one of my three day intensive courses. I also run Masterclasses for those folk who have attended the three day course and want to further develop their knowledge & skills. There is always something new to learn.

The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.

Brian Herbert