Wanted to share an experience I had last week whilst working on shift on an EMI unit.
I was working with a gentleman who had dementia. He was clearly distressed and becoming agitated and verbally hostile. I was desperately trying to communicate with him and try and find how I find out what was causing him so much anxiety.
I had a look at his notes and saw he spent many years in the Royal Navy. I returned to him and asked him what was wrong? He told me he was late for work. I began reassuring him and asked him about ‘his boat’. The gentleman responded by taking my arm. He then began to tell me about his boat and his job. As he spoke I could clearly see his anxiety and distress reducing and it was a great feeling knowing I had made a connection with this man.
I think it is so important when we are working with people who have memory problems to try and find out something about their life. Using this information can assist us to make a connection with that person and can potentially be used to reduce distress and possible aggression.
Life story work in Dementia is a really important tool, and I really urge all nurses who work with people who have memory problems to read about it at www.dementiauk.org/information-support/life-story-work/
A recent story on the BBC also show how old photos have helped trigger memories www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29596805