Empathy workshop: Know what it feels like to be a dementia patient

IMG_0706The Samvedna Senior Care team conducted an experiential workshop for family members of people with dementia on the theme ‘Experiencing Empathy’ on the 23rd of September, 2017. This was to mark World Alzheimer’s Day that was on 21st September.

All the participants were welcomed with a small purple ribbon that symbolized World Alzheimer’s day. As everyone introduced themselves, they were asked to fill out a small questionnaire on Empathy.

IMG_0703The workshop was started with a small experiential activity. Everyone was informed that the tea had been served (whereas it had not been) and that workshop will now commence. It was reiterated that they had had their tea. They were uncomfortable and they all looked confused. At this time they were informed that this confusion is a regular occurrence for people with dementia, especially when we tell them that they have eaten a meal they don’t remember having.

IMG_0702Then, as we tried to define Empathy, the audience shared their views on it. We then demonstrated 3 situations and the participants shared whether or not the situations showed empathy. The situations were reminders of everyday events in the family of a person with dementia. They showed the reactions we all tend to make, yet how those reactions lack empathy.

IMG_0704We then spoke about how to be empathetic. The following are some points discussed:

  • Be non-judgmental
  • Validate emotions
  • Be comfortable with silence
  • Paraphrase and summarize
  • Maintain eye-contact, nod, and mirror the person’s body language

IMG_0707We then moved to ‘The Dementia Experience’. This was an opportunity for anyone who volunteered to get a glimpse into the world of dementia and what it may be like for the person. The volunteer wore goggles that reduced her vision, headphones on which she could hear some sounds (many dementia patients complain of the same) and wore gloves, with two of her fingers taped (demonstrating arthritis). She was asked to do 3 simple tasks out of which she was partially successful in one task. She shared her experience and her difficulties as she completed the tasks. She shared that the experience was more difficult to cope up with than what it looks like. She stated that she was not able to differentiate between simple colors or read because of the obstruction of vision.

IMG_0705The other workshop participants experienced it vicariously and it was evident that they all had become part of the experience. Another participant was invited for a simulation. As he was being spoken to, other people were speaking in the background. The volunteer demonstrated confusions very well, and it was evident how difficult this can be for a regular person, and especially for someone with dementia.

IMG_0701Then we discussed Validation Therapy. Mr Yadav joined us and discussed his experience with his mother and his application of Validation Therapy. It was encouraging and heartwarming to hear his views on how to change our perspective and look at the positive aspects when dealing with people with dementia. Many more participants then shared their stories and challenges.

We then discussed Validation Therapy. Validation therapy view dementia patients as unique and worthwhile. It stated that there is a reason behind their behavior and they cannot be forced to change their behavior. A few more Principles of Validation Therapy were discussed:

  • Empathy builds trust, reduces anxiety, and restores dignity.
  • Painful feelings expressed and then validated by a trusted listener will diminish.
  • Painful feelings that are ignored or suppressed will gain strength.

IMG_0699Then, we discussed how to manage challenging behaviors with validation. We presented the kind of situations faced in the day to day with people with dementia. Volunteers were invited to use validation to show how they will manage that behavior. They were briefed about every situation and how to use validation and they were able to demonstrate validation successfully. We opened a discussion and all caregivers came up with different queries. The caregivers also gave useful advice to people who had similar issues regarding caregiving.

The workshop was engaging and packed with activities. The workshop was concluded with a joke that was successful in bringing out a positive and cheerful end to the event. Then, staff and participants took the opportunity to interact over tea and snacks.

We at Samvedna Senior Care aim to help seniors live happy, active and independent lives, in the comfort of their home and community through interactive caregiving.

Samvedna Senior Care was established in October 2013 with two complementary goals – firstly to provide quality home care services to seniors with limited mobility or dementia and hence social interaction, and secondly to facilitate stimulating community interaction and participation.

Our Dementia Care services are

At-home services –
Dementia intervention activities by trained Care Specialists (already mentioned above). These services are available in Delhi NCR and Guwahati
More – http://www.samvednacare.com/dementia-care
Please call us for more info – Delhi NCR – 98184 21446, 124 4229659 | Guwahati – 9864015872

Dementia Support Group –
Our Dementia Support group in Delhi NCR and Guwahati is a platform for caregivers to share feelings and support each other.
More – http://www.samvednacare.org/our-work/dementia-care
Please call us for more info – Delhi NCR – 98184 21446, 124 4229659 | Guwahati – 9864015872

Cognitive Wellness Programme, Sector 57  Gurgaon  –
Samvedna’s Cognitive Wellness Programme is designed for seniors with mild cognitive impairment, early dementia or Parkinson’s, and elderly lacking in enthusiasm and motivation. The aim is to stimulate the mind of the elderly to slow the progression of the disease or impairment. The sessions are 3 days a week, 11AM-1PM.
More – http://www.samvednacare.org/our-work/cognitive-wellness-programme

General Wellbeing:

With our General Well Being Services we aim to raise the quality of life of seniors, specially those who may have limited mobility and social interaction due to various constraints. Our interactive programme keeps them active and engaged through physical, mental and social activities, all in the comfort of their home.

More – http://samvednacare.com/general-wellbeing

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