Dementia Care Tool 1 - Yes it really is YOU

Ourselves -  the most powerful dementia care tool there is, because how much a person with dementia cooperates and engages depends mostly on us.

So knowing how to use yourself as a care tool makes your daily work easier, gives you many advantages and at the same time you spread Joy & Happiness into the dementia world.

Remember Rule 2: Everything you do for a person with dementia comes back to you.

The Benefits:
  • Reduced aggression and  'problem behaviour"
  • Increased cooperation which makes for easier daily care
  • More Contact which means more work pleasure
The most important benefits:

Your daily work becomes easier, more job satisfaction which automatically improves your mood which will be felt and be picked up by the person you care for. 

Because of this, the person with dementia will relax andd cooperate more. This makes you again happier so the person with dementia will cooperate again more & better which makes you happier. Now the care snowball is rolling and gets bigger and bigger.

What to know: 

We could divide the brain in two parts, an upper & an under brain.

In the upper brain you find the departments understanding & thinking.These you need, amongst other things, for arriving on time for work.

Planning what time  you have to leave, understanding the car or the public transport travel times. Without good working understanding & thinking departments you would never arrive on time for work.

The under brain is managing the basic life systems and is also the place where you find the empathic department and the amygdala.

The dementia fog arises in the upper brain and slowly makes  the  understanding & thinking functions operate less and less effectively.

So a person with dementia reacts to you or to a situation without having access to effective understanding & thinking functions.

At the same time, in the under brain the empathic feelings growing stronger as the dementia fog becomes thicker & thicker.

So a person with dementia becomes more & more sensitive for the inner feelings of you and for the ambient atmosphere in a room or a building.

Alarm system - the amygdala helps us to survive in life-threatening situations by activating our Fight & Flight system. For example: When I’m walking in the jungle and I hear the sound of cracking branches and a lions roar, my amygdala takes over. Danger danger yells the amygdala and without thinking I run for my life.

But when I know there is a fence between me and the lion. The next time I walk there and I hear cracking branches and a lions roar, my amygdale will turns on. But with my thinking department I tell my amygdale, it’s alright there is a big fence go to sleep, no need for me to run for my life.

However when through the dementia fog my Understanding & Thinking departments falters, I have nothing to tell to my amygdale. So every time I walk there and I hear cracking branches and a lions roar I will run for my life even though the fence is there.

Mrs. Abbyton & Debbie

Debbie works in “Sunny Days”  nursing home.  Last night Debbie had a fight with her boyfriend. This morning she was late for work so she is behind her schedule.

Irritated and rushed she bursts into the room of Mrs. Abbyton, who has dementia and is still asleep.

Through the noise  Mrs. Abbyton is startled awaked. 

In the dim room Mrs. Abbyton sees someone approaching fast. Her amygdale turns on, danger dangers yells the amygdale. The flight modus is on, but as Mrs. Abbyton can’t run away, she shout “leave me alone” “Go away”.

But Debbie is late and behind schedule, she takes Mrs. Abbyton by the arm to try to get her out of bed. Now the fight modus is activated: Mrs. Abbyton hits Debbie! Furious  Debbie leaves the room and slams the door behind her.

During lunch Debbie tells her colleges that they must look out for Mrs. Abbyton because she is violent. From then on Debby’s colleagues approaching Mrs. Abbyton very carefully and anxiously.

Mrs. Abbyton feels the new attitude of the nursing to her and responds negatively to it. She cooperates less and less and there are more violence incidents. Within six montyhs Mrs. Abbyton does not speak anymore and spends whole day in bed.

Reflection Mrs. Abbyton is not violent. Mrs. Abbyton could not help it that her departments of Understanding & Thinking dont function effectively. Mrs. Abbyton could not help it that her amygdala takes over and tells her to be frightened. Mrs. Abbyton never asked to get dementia.

 Mrs. Abbyton is not the cause of violence, rather it was the bad mood of Debbie that was the cause.  
Debbie's departments of understanding & thinking were working correctly, and she could and should have conisdered the following :-

Mrs. Abbyton has dementia 
- Her empathetic abilities are higher
- Departments of Understanding & Thinking can work badly
- I must be careful not to wake up Miss Abbyton’s amygdala.

Debbie's second entrance Debbie stands outside fMrs. Abbyton room, she is aware of her personal Irritation & frustration from the fight with her boyfriend. With these emotions she can’t go in, she knows. She takes a deep breath through her nose to her stomach, breathes out through her mouth and repeats this three times. Now with her emotions more in balance she softly knocks on the door and with a smile on her face she slowly enters the room, softly saying “good morning Mrs. Abbyton Debbie here”.

While she prepares the morning ritual Debbie hums a popular tune from Mrs. Abbyton youth. Slowly Mrs. Abbyton awakes, she recognize the song and memories are coming up. Softly she starts singing the song, picking up Debbie's smile from the heart she feels safe.

When Debbie sticks out her hands, Miss Abbyton automatically holds them. While singing & humming together, the morning ritual starts without problems and runs nearly automatically.

School Stories During the dressing Mrs. Abbyton asked if her son had already left  to go to school. Debby asked “Does he like school” ? Now Mrs. Abbyton starts telling school stories about her son.

Still talking school stories they walk together to the living room, where Debbie starts folding napkins, giving Mrs. Abbyton, without asking, a pile of napkins. Normally Miss Abbyton don’t dare to do things as she knows, deep inside, she makes mistakes or does things wrong.

But now she starts, nearly automatically, helping Debbie, as she feels that Debbie wouldn't  mind if she makes mistakes. What a liberating feeling to be allowed to do things without feeling the pressure to do well, without the fear for making mistakes.

How wonderful to be useful again. Mrs. Abbyton missed that feeling after a life time of working & caring for her husband and children. What a wonderful girl is this, she would introduce her to her son.

So instead of ending not speaking and lying the entire day in bed, Mrs. Abbyton helps the nurses and is a psotive mood maker  in the home.

YOU can achieve this by seeing yourself  as a healthcare tool.

A tool you have everywhere with you. A tool which makes your work easier, gives you more job satisfaction and makes work more fun.

The Fab Nutshell:

Meet a person with respect (The smile from the heart)

Understand Dementia & The brain (Growing empathy)

Centering (Balancing your emotions)

Accept the consequences of dementia (Don’t mind mistakes)

Move along (But never lie)

Talk with (Never talk over where the person is at present)

Creating a liberating ambiance


In this ambiance a person with dementia feels safe and at ease and when the person with dementia feels: I may make mistakes, I may forget, I’ll be accepted as I am.

In that ambiance people with dementia can rise above themselves and they will surprise you with what they still can do and still can learn.

Book tip Naomi Feil - The validation breakthrough

Youtube tip Naomi Feil - communication through empathy

Join Ignar’s dementia brigade and let’s make dementia care fabulous! 
You can contact or follow me on Twitter @MuziekGeluk 
and on Linkedin

Your Fab (helper) Ambassador 



  • Fabulous Stuff
  • Dementia Care
  • #IgnarsDementiaBrigade
  • Acute > Fabulous Stuff
  • Acute
  • Leadership and Management > Fabulous Stuff
  • Leadership and Management
  • Primary Care > Fabulous Stuff
  • Primary Care
  • Community Services > Fabulous Stuff
  • Community Services
  • Mental Health > Fabulous Stuff
  • Mental Health
  • Social Care > Fabulous Stuff
  • Social Care
  • Commissioning and Procurement > Fabulous Stuff
  • Commissioning and Procurement
  • Acute > Medicine > Rehab and elderly Medicine
  • Acute > Medicine
Download acrobat reader