Human beings must communicate, relate and connect. We are born with this drive. You see it in a newborn baby who quickly learns to smile in response to human interaction. We must communicate, in fact, we cannot, not communicate. Verbal and non-verbal behaviors signal our intent and purpose in reaching out to others for basic needs, comfort, desires and information.
For the person with dementia, the natural process of communication no longer functions in the style, efficacy and speed in which it did before the disease manifested. Take away a person’s ability to “connect” with other human beings, and isolation, declining health, depression, loss of ability and a diminishing quality of life will quickly follow.
Wouldn’t it make sense then, that making an effort to make a “connection” would enhance the daily interactions for the person living with dementia? Likewise create some meaningful experiences for ourselves as we care for them?
I believe we are here to make meaningful “connections” with one another. In the presence of one another our spirits are nurtured. We can reach out to those whose ability to “connect” is dependent on our overtures to be present with them and create this feeling of togetherness. Making “connections” begins with good communication practices. This is the essence of our human nature.
Good communication practices are, in and of themselves, the means to forge genuine, meaningful and lasting connections with one another, and positivity tap into a greater, universal appreciation of life. The pursuit of happiness is a uniquely human characteristic; an unmistakable component of the human psyche and the human soul. This human characteristic, or need, if you will, does not diminish with the presence of underlying conditions that can impair an individual’s ability to communicate. Utilizing innovative communication strategies and training, we can reach out and facilitate the connection needed for safety and wellness with daily caregiving.
This is our mission at Connected Hearts, to provide training to make an emotional connection with caregiving. We believe this is the foundation of care and the heart of our needs to nourish our spirits.
Susan Kohler, MS, CCC-SLP
Dementia Care Specialist
Co-founder, Connected Hearts, LLC