Mindfulness and empathy

What are they?

Mindfulness and empathy represent a commitment to finding meaning in confused speech or behaviour through your understanding of the individual, their motives and their circumstances.

They constitute having an openness to ‘clues’ to meaning in speech, behaviour and their linkage.

This might involve being open to gestures that suggest distress or need, or repetitions that suggest that something is important, or fractured or unusual language that might be hinting at a particular target, rather like a cryptic crossword clue.

Why are they important?

Although it is often difficult (and sometimes impossible) to find meaning in confused speech, assuming that all speech from people living with dementia or advanced dementia is meaningless can isolate and alienate the individual, undermining their self-confidence having a self-fulfilling quality.

A mutually agreed consensus on meaning can often be arrived at – even if the main focus of concern may shift for the individual living with dementia.

A sense of communication is a validating and comforting experience for both parties. As with everyone, people living with dementia have the right to have reasonable desires satisfied where possible.