Case Study – Leading with a smile and a touch of encouragement
David was at a complete loss.
He adored his wife Polly, but her advanced dementia had reached a stage where he couldn’t even get her to do the simplest of tasks, like brush her teeth or take a shower. He had started to raise his voice and speak in a curt tone out of pure frustration with his wife. It seemed to him that the more he tried to reason, negotiate and plead with his wife, Polly willfully chose to ignore his requests and the more frustrated he became.
Eventually, recognising that he wasn’t coping, David called Daughterly Care.
Words, words and more words!
Wendy, one of Daughterly Care Dementia Expert Caregivers, listened to David’s frustration and then quietly entered their bedroom, where Polly had just woken up. She opened a window and took a big breath of fresh air, smiling at Polly as she slowly and clearly spoke:
“Good morning, Polly. What a beautiful day it is. I’m going to make you a nice hot cup of tea after your shower.”
Click here to view Wendy’s profile
Wendy turned the heating on in the ensuite and returned with a toothbrush in her hand—a clear visual cue that Polly could easily and willingly follow. “Yes,” she repeated, “I’m going to make you a nice hot cup of tea after your shower.” Polly smiled as she took Wendy’s outstretched hand and allowed herself to be gently led to the bathroom.
Wendy had made sure the bathroom was warm, placed a fresh towel on the back of a chair and laid out toiletries on the vanity. She turned on the shower and without even needing to be asked, Polly undressed and quite happily and ably showered herself.
According to Wendy, the task of joyfully caring for elders living with a form of mid to advanced dementia requires understanding of their condition, their deficits and remaining strengths, respect for the person, emotional intelligence and creativity. Once a Caregiver has earned the elder’s trust, taken great care to prepare the environment, and removed or reduced the potential for a negative reaction, the rest is easy. All it takes is a warm smile, a friendly tone and an encouraging gesture.