It’s All in Your Approach
by Laura Case,
PAC Customer Service Support
While working at an assisted living facility, I got into a routine of developing a sound approach to residents, which included a warm smile to get their attention and then a simple greeting. This simple, yet positive approach was well received. In Teepa Snow’s DVD, It’s All in Your Approach, she discusses how a person living with dementia’s changing brain affects their memory and their perception of their environment. She also talks about how to properly adapt one’s own behavior to increase communication and the person’s quality of life. One strategy she brings up is the usage of the cueing sequence of visual, verbal, and touch, especially important during later stages of the disease.
You should approach individuals from a safe distance, so they can have the opportunity to recognized you, then you can proceed to introduce yourself to them. We call that the Positive Physical Approach (PPA), and Teepa discusses this in many ways within her Positive Approach to Care trainings. Please take a moment and think about how you would want to be approached when interacting with someone, and take this into consideration when you are approaching someone living with or without dementia.
Now that we’ve established a Positive Physical Approach, how are you then supporting them after initial contact? Are you aware of our Hand-under-Hand (HuH) technique? Luckily, Teepa has developed an amazing way to take an everyday handshake and turn it into a supporting mechanism. With this technique you can approach someone, offer your hand, then take their hand and gently turn it so your hand is now under theirs, which offers great support. This effective support aids the individual in many different ways, including: eating, drinking, brushing their teeth, and can even assist with walking. Please try this, as I’m confident you will be surprised with how this kind gesture of a handshake can make such a drastic difference with others.
The act of self-awareness of how to approach and support people living with dementia is further discussed in Teepa’s recent workbook, Seeing the GEMS Workbook. This workbook dives into the different GEMS States of dementia and how to interact with people living with dementia at these different states. If a care partner can recognize the current state of the person living with dementia, this will help them to properly assess the situation and utilize the proper methods of approach and support.