5 STEPS to Embrace Their Reality Effectively!


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Today’s topic is all about the 5 steps it takes to Embrace Their Reality™ effectively!

These are my five steps to embracing someone’s reality effectively. And I’m cheating a little bit here. I actually have my own download on my iPad. So if you don’t have my download yet, be sure to get it. It’s free. It’s on my website. And it is the five steps that you need to embrace someone’s reality effectively.

So here they are: listen, legitimize, lean, leap, and learn. And yes, I had to look at my own thing to tell you what those were, but it’s because I do a ton of dementia education. And look, I can’t keep track of every single thing I say without writing it down.

So through these five steps, I’m pretty much giving you the step-by-step process to figure out how to live in someone’s world without worrying about making anything up or telling them the wrong thing.

You’re really going to listen to somebody, find out where their reality is, and then take the time to go there. We of course want to make sure we know where someone’s reality is. We actually listen to what they say and not just make an assumption that because someone’s reality was one place last week, it’s gonna be in the same exact place this week. The next one is legitimize. We want to actually agree with whatever that person is saying to us. We cannot just say we don’t wanna, we wanna give credence to whatever it is that they’re saying, right? That’s the best way to do it.

When we lean, we want to lean into what that person is saying. This is where you’re going to use those skills. I teach asking questions like if someone’s saying, where are my parents? You’re going to say, where do you think they are? Or if, if someone is afraid, you’re going to lean into that fear and try to solve the emotional component of it, right? With leap, once you find out where someone’s reality is, you’re going to fully go there. And then of course, with learn, you are going to, through all these steps over time, find out where someone’s reality usually is, and then keep these tools in your toolkit. So you can generally go to somebody’s reality without having to go through these five steps every single time. But these five steps should be pretty short. This shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes in actuality to do with somebody living with dementia. You’re going to do these in conversation. You’re going to find ways to work these steps in so you’re not just jumping into somebody’s reality and having it be the wrong one, which is the argument that I typically hear from people when they say, whoa, embracing someone’s reality doesn’t work. Like, what if the reality is different than it was the other day? Or, well, yeah, that’s why we’re going to take the time to figure out where someone’s reality is before we fully embrace it. We can’t embrace someone’s reality if we pick the wrong one, right?

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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