This is what I believe – and I’d like you to respect that
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
I have been monitoring (and have contributed to) an online discussion about the pros and cons of ‘encouraging people with dementia to live in the past’. To me it is plain sailing.
When we are children, we often encourage our parents and grandparents to reminisce; “Grandpa, tell us about when you were a boy” etc. We ourselves live in the past for at least some of our waking hours; regretting past mistakes, fondly conjuring memories of past loved ones and wonderful holiday moments.
Of course we who do not have dementia are aware that we are reminiscing and the concern appears to be that people with dementia actually believe that their spouse is still alive and will soon be coming home from work, or whatever – that they do not have this awareness.
My response is so what? We all know people whose beliefs are different from ours; who have a world view dissimilar to our own. Happily, most of us respect other people’s beliefs, whether they be religious, political, food- or fashion-oriented. Why should we not respect the beliefs of someone with dementia?
If someone invites a discussion of one of their particular beliefs then I see nothing wrong with engaging; it might be churlish not to. But the question that challenges some of us is, do you validate someone’s belief as a matter of course, without being directly asked to do so? Do you just go along with them?
Why not? We vicariously share in the memories of our grandparents, why not with a person with dementia? I think there is sometimes an unconscious arrogance on the part of healthcare professionals; an attitude of “I know better than you what is best for your well-being”. That may often be true, but it is trumped by the requirement to accord the people we are looking after the dignity and respect we would accord to anyone else.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.