If your surrounding does not feel & look like home it’s logical that you start looking for the exit to set off home.
What would you do when somebody is trying to stop you on your way home? Saying “you may not go, this is your home”. Do you tell him “This is not my home, let me through”.
Or would you start shouting and become violence as it feel as your right to be allowed to go to your own house. And of course you are standing in your right, you can’t help it that the dementia fog has relocates your home to the past and is making your present surrounding incomprehensible.
This is a big problem in dementia care, causes much stress, fear and unrest by a person with dementia and is a physical and time burden for the nurses and carers.
How to help?
How can we prevent the despair, the anger and the violence?
How can we give a person with dementia a home feeling?
By creating a recognizable environment.
– Less anger, violence and frustrations
– Reduced wandering and runaway urges
– Happy residence & happy nurses
What you need to know
A favorable environment produces favorable behavior
How to do?
By putting furniture, photos and objects into the surrounding, which are recognized by the person with dementia.
What to use?
Small furniture: chair – lamp – radio……
Objects like: working/hobby/household tools
Photo’s of: parental home, working environment, beloved spots ect…..
How to find the right (fabulous) stuff?
Go with the person with dementia to a thrift shop or a flea market.
Observe which objects the person recognized, happy or enthusiastic made.
Make photos of the object or even better buy them.
The recognized objects give you an indication of the period and era of objects which you can use to create a home feeling.
When it not possible to go outside, use your phone or tablet as a flea market.
For example search in Google for “daily life in the 60’s in the UK” select images, there you go, the digital flea market.
How to find the right photos?
Walk with the person with dementia through his photo albums.
Don’t say, look there is aunt Betty, or that’s a lovely picture of your husband.
The person with dementia will follow you, saying yes yes.
But you don’t know if the person with dementia really recognizes the photo.
Let the person be your photo guide.
Don’t choose for the person.
Not puttin’ on the Ritz –Every photo, which makes the person with dementia feel good or happy, is a good photo! So not what the family, caregiver or management likes or not likes, but what person with dementia likes, that’s what counts.
Remember you not styling a room in the Ritz, but you try to give a person with dementia a home feeling.
Working 9 to 5 Think about the job of the person.
Are the pictures of the job, the shop, or colleagues?
If not, search on the Internet for a similar working environment.
When you are sure you have the right photos.
Print them, for example on canvas.
And hang them on the wall.
No postcard sizing
I am not talking about postcard format photos.
Think big; calculate the costs of tranquillizers and the time you spent finding a person or arguing over not to be allowed to leave?
Add these costs of a whole year up. I think you can order a wall size photo, you get my drift.
The photo could also given by the family as a birthday present.
Is giving home feelings to a person with dementia not the most wonderful birthday present you can give?
Look if you can you put working tools in the room.
What job had the person? Which tools has he/she used?
Besides being a beacon, the tools might become a day-filling activity.
The One-pound story
After a training of my, a nurse saw an old typing machine on a flea market.
Immediately she thought about Mrs. Peters, who had been a secretary. Without thinking she bought the old typing machine, for one Pound.
At the moment the nurse enter the room with the typing machine. Mrs Peters came alive; she greeted the typing machine as an old friend. In a world where most things were unrecognizable for Mrs. Peters, came a subject, which she recognized and knew so well.
Mrs. Peters flourished and became more alive. The nurses had to get papers and carbon papers because Mrs. Peters wanted to work.
The old typing machine was not only a beacon in the dementia fog for Mrs. Peters, it became also a day-filling activity.
The costs? One pound!
Cleaning & Household objects could also become beacons, daily activities and at the same time giving the feeling of being useful.
– Needle & Thread plus a pile of clothing to repair
– Polishes & silver or copper to brush
– Dusters & Dusting
What were the person’s hobbies? Are they still present in the brain?
For example stamp collecting, painting, sculpture etc…
What did they make in those years during the crafts lessons at school?
Even when a person is not able to work with the tools anymore, they can give comfort just by being there. They will be lighthouses in the dementia fog.
Musical skills are not affected by dementia.
So when a person has played a music instrument he or she can often play that instrument in spite of the dementia.
Find out if the person has played an instrument.
If so, put that instrument in the room.
Play the kind of music the person did play on that instrument.
Don’t push just look what happens, read the transverse flute story below.
The transverse flute – mail from a daughter with a mother with dementia.
After your lecture I remember that my mother used to play transverse flute. Coming home I looked the flute up and took it along with my next visit.
My mother was sitting in the shared living room, I put the transverse flute in the box on the table near my mother and went away to get coffee.
When I return to my mother’s table I was totally amazed. My mother who normally doesn’t like to do things, had opened the box, assembled the flute and was playing on it. She was beaming with pleasure and went up in music.
Thank you for pointing out to me that musical skills are not being affected by dementia, you made my mother and me very happy thank you .
The Fab Nutshell of Tool Three:
1- A favorable environment produces favorable behavior
2- Create a surrounding where the person with dementia feels at home
3- Find, together with the person with dementia recognizable objects
4- Decorate the room with furniture, photo’s & objects which being recognized
5- Look if some objects can become an activity
7- Involve the family in the search for the right objects
6- Everything you do for a person with dementia is coming back to you
Yes, together we can make a fabulous surrounding making people with dementia feels at home and making your daily work easier.
Your Fab (helping) ambassador