Jun 3, 2012

Making the Right Connection

Use the Three A’s: Always wear a smile, always be patient, and always treat the person with dignity.

By Faye LaPorte

Faye LaPorte
You are facing a large cave opening that is very dark and hard to see in.

Far inside, in the corner, you suddenly see two big eyes peering out. Nothing else, just the two big white eyes.

You bend forward straining to see.

“Please come out,” you say. “Can you come out and play?”

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Very, very slowly you reach your hand in. If you have expressed the right tone in your voice and truly care, you will be successful and a hand will very tentatively reach out for yours and you will be able to will bring him out of the dark cave into the “light”. It might only be for a few minutes, or it may be for an hour, but each time you reach in, and make the connection, the time in the “light” will be longer for him. You must take advantage of this time.

Your goal with Dementia/Alzheimer’s patients should always be to make the day happier and create a fun environment. You will be able to play a major part in the environment when you make the right connection.

You will know when the connection is made because you will see that wonderful “twinkle” in their eyes or sometimes even a slight smile.

Observation is the key to gaining entry into their “magical land”. Use the Three A’s: Always wear a smile, always be patient, and always treat the person with dignity.

You will have to be a detective to create moments of success. Don’t ask questions as you will always get a NO. Asking direct questions does not work.

Example: “Do you want to have lunch now?”


The best way to approach this is “I am really hungry today. Let’s see what we can find to eat.” When you start walking to the kitchen, he will follow.

Be creative. One of my clients wasn’t really interested in lunch and in fact didn’t care for eating in general.

My instructions were to make a plate with a hard boiled egg, fruit, cheese, ½ sandwich, and juice. When I put the plate in front of her she just stared at it and played with the cheese. This was not very successful.

The next day at lunch time I filled a large platter with all of the items, but enough for two people. I put 2 forks on the table, napkins, juice for her and water for me. Then I put the filled platter down.

She looked at it and said, “I can’t eat all of that.”

“Silly girl, this is for both of us,” I said.

We had so much fun sharing all of the food and sometimes even grabbed for the same piece of cheese. This worked just wonderfully. Lunch was no longer a task, but a fun event.

Faye LaPorte is a dementia specialist at BrightStar Care of Grosse Pointe / Macomb provider of private-duty home care to help keep seniors independent and in their own homes. She is certified in the Alzheimer’s Association essentiALZ™.

You can learn more about how Faye approaches caregiving by visiting the BrightStar website.

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Original content Faye LaPorte the Alzheimer's Reading Room