In the article, Preserving Dignity in Dementia, we have shared about a method called DAWN, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s Wellbeing Network, which recognizes the seven emotional needs that are caused when people leave their cognitive skills that they’re so used to having at their disposal their whole lives. The DAWN method has seven tools, and the first three refer to meeting somebody’s security needs.
Number one is mood management. What Dementia does is take away all rational thinking skills and memory skills, not just our memories, but the actual memory skills. And when they lose those two types of skills, they lose the ability to change their moods, and they lose the ability to analyze what other people are experiencing, their moods, and their feelings. Companions need to recognize that they are affecting the Dementia Patient’s mood, and they cannot do anything about it, they have lost the ability to control or change their moods.
Security and Confusion
If they are losing their memory skills, rational skills, retention skills, and the ability to direct their attention, then they are going to be forced to live with confusion. So, as the Dementia progresses and they will grow all the more confused than they were before, and less able to make sense of the world around them. So, from now, they need their companion to help them come to grips with that and help them feel safe even though they can never truly retain the information like before. So that’s tool number two, the security and confusion.
Security and Care
Tool number three is Security and Care. When they are losing skills like rational thinking, memory skills, and retention skills, they won’t be able to do things or accomplish things or take care of themselves like the way they once did. So now, they need their companions to show me, teach me that even though I can’t take care of myself, I’m still going to be okay because they’re going to help, and they’re going to help keep me safe.
So these first three tools are security needs, there are going to be emotional needs of security that going through the skill loss that dementia causes are going to bring out in their experience, and their personality. The other four are wellbeing needs. Some things need to be a part of their lives, and it is essential for them to feel a sense of happiness.
Succeeding in conversations, not getting embarrassed so that they can continue with their relationships, and have positive interactions all come under this tool.
Sense of Control
Even though they can’t retain the information in their mind the way they used to, even though they can’t make choices because they can’t recall or retain, they do need to know time and again so that they can communicate with their companions. Companions need to understand that they can help them make decisions by how they present information to them.
Sense of Values
Dementia or not, everyone wants to know that they have something of value to offer in relationships and that they are admired respected and loved in their relationships. That’s tool number six, sense of value/worth.
The last one, it sounds like a security issue, as a security feature. Still, it’s really about a security symbol and how to meet that security symbol so that at any given time, their companions can provide them with the sense that the future is secure. They need to know that they have nothing to fear. So often, people experiencing Dementia, you see them being frozen on that; it is just the general fear or frustration or guilt or anger. So, Dementia is the experience of losing cognitive skills, and the way they behave is just a natural expression of the way they feel.
As caregivers, we take up a lot of burdens to give out the patience, love, and care we need to show on our loved ones. But, understanding their emotional needs can help you big time.