What is the Validation method?
Validation is a method for communicating with older adults who are diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. It is based on an attitude of respect and empathy for older adults with Alzheimer’s-type dementia who are struggling to resolve unfinished business before they die. Validation suggests a way of classifying the behaviors of these disoriented older adults and offers simple, practical techniques that help them restore dignity and avoid deteriorating into a vegetative state. Caregivers practicing the Validation method become empathetic listeners, who do not judge the person, but accept their view of reality.
Is Validation a therapy or a method?
Validation is a theory, a method, and an attitude—a theory that people in the end stages of life need to resolve unfinished issues before death; a method with 15 helping techniques; and an attitude of respect for the older adult. Validation does not give the person insight or try to cure him or her, as in psychotherapy. However, Validation is therapeutic in that it lessens agitation, restores well-being, and maintains communication.
Validation isn’t the only method there is. Can I use other methods or therapies?
You can and should. There is no single, foolproof method for people with dementia. Music, movement, and activities are just a few other helping methods. Validation is just one effective method to know to help people with dementia restore communication and maintain dignity.
I’ve been doing Validation instinctively for years. Why should I take a course to learn it?
You may have the validating attitude—accepting and respecting the person where they are—however, in order to use the techniques it is vital to learn the depth of Validation theory. In a course, you learn to integrate the principles of Validation with practice. You need feedback and supervision in order to really learn the techniques.
Our residents feel good here. Can you prove that Validation will help them feel better?
You can use the Validation group evaluation form found in The Validation Breakthrough to find out if Validation is restoring well-being. Rate the person from 0 to 4. If the person complains less, communicates more, cries less, smiles more, and so forth after Validation, then you know that the Validation techniques are helping.
Validation teaches us “don’t ever lie,” but does that mean pretending to agree with a resident when she says, “My mother is waiting for me?” How do you reconcile these conflicting ideas?
Validation does not mean pretending or agreeing or disagreeing. When you validate someone, you listen to them, without adding your own reality. You enter into the reality of the person with dementia. You help them express themselves in order to work through unresolved relationships. In this example you might say, “What do you need to do for your mother?”
Validation works best with disoriented people over the age of 80. What about with younger people who have Alzheimer’s disease? Is it possible to validate them?
It is possible to use elements of Validation with people who have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The validating method—using empathy, respect, and honesty—is always good. In the early stages of the disease process, some of the verbal techniques of Validation can prove useful.
How do I know if I’m doing it right?
If your resident feels better, is less agitated, complains less, communicates more, and relates to others positively, then you are doing Validation correctly.
This post was adapted from The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias, Third Edition by Naomi Feil and Vicki de Klerk-Rubin. Copyright © 2012 by Naomi Feil. All rights reserved.
Read the book!
The Validation Breakthrough
Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias
By Naomi Feil and Vicki de Klerk-Rubin
Copyright © 2012 by Naomi Feil. All rights reserved.
This method to dementia care helps reduce stress, enhance dignity, and increase happiness. Since its inception in 1989, Validation has helped thousands of professional and family caregivers improve their relationships with residents and loved ones with dementia. Caregivers who use these techniques validate older adults’ expressed feelings, rather than focusing on disorientation and confusion.