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Wally Plock

Chapter 3 Listening and Caring Skills.

The importance of body language and tone and gently verifying the feelings being presented.

I find the residents at the nursing home are less guarded than the staff.

How are you to the residents will sometimes result in a “not good.”

I can then ask “what’s going on?”

The staff are more guarded.  After a death on a unit, I will sometimes try to get people talking about their connection, relationship and feelings about the death. “I’m good” is a an oft repeated answer.  Sometimes, though people will tear up and open up.

Reading feelings and body language is very helpful on our memory care unit.  Many of the residents have lost language skills, but still talk and verbalize in gibberish all the while expressing emotion through their eyes and body language.  A smile, a tear, an angry look, a question.  I find when I talk to the emotion rather than the words, I am able to make a connection.  Validating feelings esp. anger is something Dementia expert Teepa Snow shares in her training.  Literally coming along side someone at their level instead of facing them from the front is helpful. Ten ways to de-escalate a crisis.


On p. 47 The author lists some softening words.  Circling in on an emotion rather than a direct hit seems wise. Saying, “You seem a bit unsettled rather than “You are probably really angry right now.”

p.47,  “The intention of lowering the intensity is to be sensitive to the emotional experience the speaker is experiencing.”  Last week, I had an opportunity to visit with one of our volunteers who is blind.  He wants to get a job, but during a meeting with a job coach, he got defensive as he did not have ready answers.  My first attempts at cheer leading and fixing went no where.  I shifted gears and tried to focus on his feelings of frustration at being pressured.  I started asking questions rather than giving my “wise” insights.  He softened and seemed appreciative that I was trying to hear him