About Alzheimer's Validation

Written by katrina josey
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Validation is a method of interacting with the dementia of people in the late stages of Alzheimer's. The theory behind validation is the belief that people with dementia do and say things for a reason, and validating their words and actions is a way of encouraging them to keep communication open with the rest of the world. Another foundational principle of validation states that older people are to be valued and those with dementia should not be changed.


The way to validate a person that is suffering from dementia is to figure out why they do and say what they do and accepting this behaviour. Using validation methods of interaction is thought to prevent late stage Alzheimer's patients from shutting down further mentally, keeping their cognitive function as active as possible. Validation encourages Alzheimer's patients to forge a trust with their caregivers as a means to encouraging communication between the two. By lending an understanding ear to someone with Alzheimer's to verbalise their frustrations, worries and fears, the negative emotions can diminish. This will contribute to better cognitive functioning and behaviour.


There are physical, mental and social aspects of validation. Some Alzheimer's validation techniques include: Centring Centring is necessary in order to feel empathy for someone with dementia. To become centred, one must disregard personal feelings and thoughts in the mind. Mirroring Mirroring is adopting similar actions, tone, and volume of voice of someone. This technique is based on the human behaviour theory that people like, trust and feel comfortable with people that are similar to them. Mirroring is not imitating or mocking. For example, if someone is leaning in close to speak to you with a calm and low voice, then you would also lean in close and use a low tone of voice. Physical Touch Physical touch is used to foster a relationship and trust with someone with Alzheimer's. This technique can be used in subtle ways over time to foster communication with someone that tends to withdraw.


Alzheimer's validation is comprised of four parts: 1. The behaviour of people with dementia is specific to their age. They are trying to tie up the loose ends of their life's issues before they die. 2. Validation puts the behaviour of people with Alzheimer's into four stages: Malorientation involves minimal forgetfulness and confusion; Time confusion involves losing the ability to distinguish chronological time; Repetitive motion--when Alzheimer's patients can't use their words, they resort to repetitive motion to solve problems; Vegetation, or blocking out the rest of the world and ceasing to try to resolve their life issues. 3. Validation should employ techniques related to the mental, physical, emotional and social aspects of Alzheimer's. 4. Five to 10 people should make up the validation group with the goal of providing stimulation and communication with the person suffering from Alzheimer's.


Employing validation techniques has the following benefits for Alzheimer's patients: Fewer incidents of lashing out physically; Less of a need to be physically restrained; Less of a need to be calmed down with medication or tranquillisers; Improved communication; The speed of Alzheimer's disease progression is slowed; Increased self-esteem and value of self.


Naomi Feil, an expert on Alzheimer's disease, is credited with founding validation therapy. She was born in Germany in 1932 and raised in a Cleveland, Ohio, home for the elderly. Her mother worked in social services and her father was the director of the elderly home. She developed validation as an alternative to traditional methods of interaction with elderly people with dementia. She writes books on validation and tours Europe and the United States teaching workshops on validation.

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