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Posted on April 10, 2011

In a great article from the NYTimes Paula Span explains how important it is to know how to redirect people with cognitive impairment

Experts are always urging family members to “redirect” people with dementia, rather than point out their errors or argue with them. Their damaged brains can’t retain the facts, and trying to reorient them when they’re confused only causes distress.

When a person with dementia says she is waiting for her husband to come pick her up, it’s not helpful to say, however gently, “He died 10 years ago, remember?” Better to respond with, “I’m sure he’ll be along any minute. Meanwhile, why don’t we walk outside and see the flowers/look at the photos in this book/have some ice cream?”

The idea is to enter into the person’s reality, rather than try to force her into ours. “Sometimes it helps to become a co-conspirator,” explains an article that has made the rounds of various Alzheimer’s Association chapters.