Meeting the Unmet Need

What if… we looked beyond the response? Often in society, those living with dementia are unfairly labeled. You may hear descriptive terms such as aggressive, having behaviors, difficult, refusing care, sexually inappropriate, and many more. But there is a reason behind the response, a trigger or some unmet need. For example, if a person throws a glass of juice across the room, that indeed appears aggressive. But why did he do it? Dementia doesn’t automatically make people aggressive. Perhaps he has been served orange juice every day.  He doesn’t like orange juice, but he is unable to form the words to ask for apple juice.  This might be his way of sharing his frustration with not only the orange juice but his inability to communicate. How might you respond if nobody considered your input and you had no way of relaying your needs or desires?  

Seek the unmet need and create personalized solutions. Consider the situation of Larry who is 65 and strong. He is not able to carry on a conversation, and walks the community all day long. His sister visits him regularly for hours at a time, but she has not been to visit for weeks due to illness. Staff have noticed Larry taking the hand of older, frail female residents and pulling them on his walks. He hugs them and tries to kiss them, understandably causing fear in them. Does this mean Larry is being sexually inappropriate? Or is he seeking a connection that is missing by his sister’s absence? Aha – the unmet need of physical companionship! The staff of the community where this occurred began inviting Larry to go with them anywhere they would walk. They would hold his hand on the walk and provide him a hug.  Larry received these interactions many times a day, filling his unmet need for companionship. The interactions with the ladies ended, staff and family members were relieved, and most importantly, Larry’s unmet needs were filled.

Not all situations can be easily solved. But by adding a layer of Wildly Curious thinking and team assessment, the unmet need can often be identified and person centered interventions can bring resolution. 

Follow the Inspired Senior Care Instagram channel during March to see 16 scenarios of personalized solutions to support those having difficulties with the effects of brain change.  You can make a difference! InspiredSeniorCare Instagram

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