There comes a time in most people’s dementia where it confuses and upsets them if caregivers try to "correct" them. Their reality is just a valid to them as our reality is to us.
There are times to distract them and times to re-direct them, but in most things, it really doesn't matter who is "right." If you can practice the concept of validating them, you will generally find a happier and more cooperative person.
I know it's hard for some people to learn to do this, but we can't expect people to understand what their minds are incapable of grasping. You may want to check out the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (www.alzfdn.org) and the Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org). Both of these sites can provide a lot of education and insight.
Reality orientation is a widely used term and can include anything form telling an individual where they are and what they are doing to theraputic activities like reminiscence using music, photos and family objects etc.
It is used in many different ways and the type of therapy used can often depend on the individual's stage of Alzheimer's. As we all know people's moods, mental states vary and an activity that works one day may not on another day.
Research into the benefits of orientation activities are varied. There is evidence that suggests even after damage human brain can reorganize and functional improvements, even in cases of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. However this differs in individuals and improvement may be sort term.
Certainly I have seen improvements in mood and well-being and aspects of cognitive function. I think any activity that increases human contact between nursing staff and patients in nursing homes improves care. It can increased social interactions between residents too.
As Carol correctly points out critically pointing out someone's mistakes in understanding what is happening around them is not helpful and validation is very important.
Education and training for caregivers and staff is important so that staff understand what they are doing, able to record improvements and pass on information about what works best for different individuals.
Hope this helps
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