It's important to remember there's a person with a past and identity with their own wishes and needs

Robin Dynes, expert dementia author has created a guide to help people who are caring for someone with dementia, 'Seeing the person, not just the condition'.

The guide aims to help you see past the dementia and remember the person inside. It's easy as a carer to become task driven when there is so much to do. Caring for a loved one with dementia is tough for the person with dementia and the carer.

Robin, who has worked in the NHS, Social Services and Adult Education as a Councellor and trainer for over 30 years, gently takes us through what it means to 'see the person' and how you would do this in everyday life.

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Seeing the condition

As the person with dementia becomes less able to communicate it can be easy to adopt an attitude of relating to them as if they are the disease. This is probably done with great efficiency and care; making sure they get up, are well clothed, stay clean, get their meals, are given their medications, have a safe environment and so on. You become wrapped up in the business of doing tasks and being a good carer. Any ‘difficult’ behaviour is blamed on the condition.

This can also result in treating the person as less than human, ceasing to treat them as an adult and contribute to ‘problem behaviours’. The behaviours usually arise because their viewpoint is not seen and their needs are being ignored. They quickly begin to feel they are not wanted or needed and that they are a burden.

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Seeing the person

To be able to interpret and understand the behaviour that the person with dementia presents, we need to continue seeing the person.

Their reactions will always have meaning and are indications of them remaining true to themselves, who they are and their beliefs. They will also be influenced by good and bad experiences in their past. A person may have a belief that it is not right for a son or daughter to help them bathe and react emotionally or physically to being bathed by them. Their objections may be inconvenient but it is the individual responding in the only way they can.

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