Caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia can be extremely taxing and heartbreaking. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out why your aging loved one is upset. One reason can simply be feelings hurt by lack of respect. The cure for this may seem difficult, but it’s really simple.

The missing piece is Clinical Empathy or the ability for a care provider to understand how the patient is feeling. This can be anything from understanding symptoms and how they affect the patient to understanding how they feel about a situation.

Unfortunately, in the day to day care of an individual, it is easy to see the task at hand rather than the person.  When there is a conflict between caregiver and patient, it’s good to look and see if there has been a breakdown in respect. Not to blame either individual, but what suggestions can you are care coordinator make to both patient and caregiver about how to work together?

Should the caregiver knock before entering the patient’s room?

It’s a simple step that shows respect for the patient and can recall the patient to the present before interaction.

Could the caregiver ask permission to help?

 It’s a simple step that allows the patient to have some power in the situation. A sincere offer of assistance can then be agreed to, preserving respect and good feelings for all parties.

Simple respect can easily lead to shared stories, memories and much less conflict.

Recently we were able to help a family in nearby Orinda with just such a situation. The client was startled by the entrance of her caregiver and lashed out, hurting the caregiver. The caregiver in turn was shocked and indignant. Reconciliation was possible when the caregiver realized she hadn’t knocked before entering the client’s room. After calling our office for a quick check in, the caregiver realized her mistake and chose to practice clinical empathy. With and apology and agreement, client and caregiver were able to agree to knocking and answering so as to prevent further conflict. Soon they were sharing stories and laughing as before.

At Senior Helpers in Moraga, CA, we work hard to instill Clinical Empathy in our caregiver’s actions. Call us today at (925) 268-8327 and see how we can help you and your loved ones.




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