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One Small Tip....One Big Difference - How to Approach Someone Living With Dementia

Every now and then, I come across a tip from someone working with people living with dementia that makes me think "wow, that's common sense, why didn't I think of that!".

Now I know from experience that one fleeting success in a technique to support a person living with dementia or to manage a particular behaviour doesn't mean you've 'cracked it'. It doesn't mean that a technique, strategy or approach used today will work tomorrow or with another person. What it does mean is that you've gained another tool to pop into your mental tool bag which can be used on another occasion when it seems appropriate. So, it's with that guidance in mind that I'd like to share something with you that - once learned - will have applicability across many areas of your life, not just supporting a person living with dementia. Even better, it has utility with everyone! 

Naturally, we all tend to approach someone living with dementia with our dominant side. Typically, that places our dominant side on the other person's non-dominant side. Try it with a colleague, friend or relative. We all feel slightly uncomfortable with someone on our non-dominant side. It seems a little less natural - for me - to have someone approach from my left, position themselves on my left and take my left hand (I'm right handed). Equally, it seems a little less natural for me to approach someone on their dominant side (assuming they are right-handed) - I feel a little awkward, and would prefer to be on their other side - their left. So’ we need to be mindful of this unspoken discomfort and being aware of which side to approach a person living with dementia.  Not being sensitive to this instantly creates an obstacle to having a 'right' relationship with the person you are trying to support. Give it a go -you might be surprised! 

John Kirk is a Senior Care Consultant with over 14 years’ experience in senior care including leading a large residential & nursing care home group, high quality care at home services and the provision of specialist consultancy services to residential, nursing and domiciliary care providers. 

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