Empathy allows us to understand people suffering from dementia. Sometimes their way of expressing themselves comes across as a challenging behavior. But nursing home staff should see it as a sign of distress and recognize that something is wrong. For example, if a resident becomes violent during a shower, reframe it, and understand they are upset and trying to reach out. Put yourself in their shoes.
Empathy comes from a level of intelligence and acknowledges how we are viewed by that resident and what we’re trying to do. In order to have empathy for someone you need to understand their life story, what’s truly important to them. Then it will be easier to provide daily care. A caregiver needs to know to begin everything with empathy and see beyond behaviors.
For more information on caring for residents with Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Resource Center of Connecticut’s Web site.