Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are among the most challenging aspects of dementia caregiving. Coping with behaviors such as agitation, irritability, and apathy can take an emotional toll on caregivers. It can be tricky to provide validation for the feelings driving these behaviors but not necessarily the behaviors themselves.
Fortunately, several therapy-based interventions can help caregivers address some of the more difficult emotions and behaviors. Validation therapy aims to validate these feelings while alleviating negative emotions and enhancing positive emotions.
This article will discuss the basics of validation therapy for dementia and how it’s used in dementia care.
As humans, we all need some degree of emotional validation. It provides us with comfort knowing those around us understand and accept our feelings. This concept of emotional validation serves as the foundation for validation therapy for dementia.
Between 1963 and 1980, Naomi Feil developed validation therapy for older individuals with cognitive impairment, and it has since been applied in the dementia caregiving space. Validation therapy for dementia focuses on understanding and accepting the reality of the person living with dementia.
As dementia progresses and more cognitive abilities are impacted, the needs and abilities of people living with dementia change. During the later stages of dementia, communication can become challenging. Validation therapy utilizes several communication techniques that may help overcome communication barriers and has been found to decrease agitation, apathy, irritability, and nighttime disturbance. General communication techniques used in validation therapy include:
It’s important to understand that there is a reason behind the behavior of the person living with dementia. While their behaviors and emotions may seem irrational to you, they may seem normal to them. Using verbal and non-verbal validation techniques provides a means to better understand the emotions behind behaviors rather than redirecting the conversation.
Below are examples of verbal and non-verbal validation techniques that may be used by caregivers:
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