There are countless ways to create connection, and it usually begins by finding commonalities as well as identifying and appreciating differences. Connection happens in life when we nod our heads in emphatic agreement and quickly bond in understanding.
Connection comes from the stuff in life that is in stark contrast from our own experiences, enriching our appreciation and acceptance of another.
Who we are and how we chose to shape our lives that is reflected in our everyday choices, the thoughts we hold about ourselves, attempts at self-expression and emotional memories. What better way to create connection when talking to a person living with dementia than to discuss introspective ideas: prompting recognition, feelings and peak moments of joy and success.
Connecting with a person living with dementia is no more difficult than connecting with an old friend. The person may look and act different from what you remember, but the core essence of their being remains. It is up to you to uncover and expose emotions, thoughts and feelings to establish connection.
The following are 10 examples of ways to begin a path to connection, filled with laughter, interest, understanding and compassion.
- Find commonalities among style, for example you can ask: Have you ever gotten a tattoo, piercing or embellished in a radically different hair color?
- Bond over popular culture, and not the boring stuff. Make a choice: : Are you a Beatles fan or Elvis Fan? Superman or Batman? The Late Night Show or Morning News?
- Reminisce about memories that evokes the emotion of love, such as the “one that got away”.
- Talk about what feeds your inner “geek”: what do you collect, wear or do that brings you great pleasure?
- If you could pick any superpower, what would it be and why?
- What were you like when you were younger? Would we have been friends in high school?
- Movies or television shows? You must have a preference… and what is your favorite?
- Remembering Iconic moments in history: where were you when…( on 9.1.1.? When Michael Jackson died? When princess Diana was killed? Challenger explosion? Kennedy? Colombine?
- Channel your inner athlete and discuss what sport you would prefer to play? Watch on T.V.? See in person?
- Recalculating life’s events: when did things go differently than you expected in life? Looking back now, are you glad they did?