Today, I want to share one of the most powerful and simplest things any caregiver can start doing immediately to increase how successful they are in responding to their loved one.
Every human brain has something called the negativity bias. That means that it's much easier for us to notice the negative things over the positive things. As a result, you will notice your loved one's difficult, agitated, distressed, and challenging behaviors, more than any other behavior.
You can be the best caregiver in the world, and you will still notice all the things that your loved one does that gets under your skin much easier than anything they do that is lovely or wonderful.
When we understand this information, we are then able to take steps to balance out the negativity bias.
Successful Careblazers do this well. They spend just as much time, if not more, noticing the moments when things are going well than they do talking about and noticing the moments when things are not going well.
When they experience a rare or fleeting moment of things being easier, or their loved ones being happier, take note of those moments, AND....they ask themselves "what about this moment made it easier?"
If a loved one who normally resists taking a shower becomes more willing one day, they ask themselves.
"What was it about this situation that made things more enjoyable, peaceful, agreeable?"
This means they aren't just focusing on the hard times and the difficult times.
They're noticing and observing the things that went well.
And by asking noticing those situations the pattern, they can apply what they've learned to other challenging situations.
Here's an amazing story from one of my care course members.
We regularly do special programs and live sessions inside the program.
Recently, we did a live program on bathing, toileting and dressing. The goal was to get to the bottom of any challenges in direct care and ultimately have more success.
One of my amazing care course members showed up with her goal to get her husband to take a shower more often.
She said he only takes a shower once a month and she was frustrated.
She started talking about how everything she tries doesn't work, and no matter what she does she can't convince him.
This is an example of focusing only on what's going wrong - the things that aren't working.
During the program we talked about what IS working?
I asked her to tell me about the last time he took a shower willingly.
She replied that he only showers once a month.
Naturally, I wanted to know what is happening once a month that he's showering.
What is it about those days that gets him to shower?
That's when she tells me that he has a haircut appointment once a month, and he always gets ready for that appointment because he likes seeing the lady who cuts his hair. He enjoys talking to her, and he wants to be suitable when he gets there.
That is fantastic information!
We can work with that information!
Paying more attention to what is working will likely help you solve a difficult dementia behavior than paying attention to what's not working ever will.
Knowing that he is motivated to take a shower on hair cutting days, we can use that information and use it to think of different ideas that may help increase how often he showers.
We talked about getting the hairdresser involved as he always goes to the same lady and really likes her.
Maybe she could prescribe him like a hair scalp treatment that he should do in between appointments to make his hair even better, which would require him having to wash his hair.
We talked about increasing the, amount of times he gets his hair cut from once a week to every other week since that was a big motivator for him.
This Careblazer who started the live class thinking to herself, "nothing will work" ended the class thinking, "there are so many possibilites."
There ARE so many possibilities when you pay more attention to the moments that are working compared to the moments that aren't.
Amazing. Successful Careblazers make effort by asking themselves really great questions like:
What went right here?
What's going right?
What was it about this situation that made things smoother than normal?
What was different about the timing?
What was different in my approach?
What was different in the people who were around?
These types of questions - which can only happen when you raise your awareness that they are happening - will have you thinking like a detective and looking for the clues.
Success leaves clues.
Your brain will find the negative stuff easily.
Your brain will still focus on all the things that aren't going right.
That's because we're human and we have the negativity bias.
We have human brains, and that's what our brains are going to do naturally.
But what our brains don't naturally do is look for what's going right.
That's what you need to notice and start looking for.
It's okay if the situation or event is a tiny victory or tiny improvement. That's still progress. By asking yourself some of the questions above, you'll be able to build on that and continue to make progress.
Train yourself to start looking for when things are going right.
Don't just share to, you know, talk about everything that's going wrong, you want to share to say, do you see something here?
Make the better moments something you go on a hunt for every day. I guarantee you will start noticing those things more and more.
Pay just as much attention to the good as you do to the not so good.
That's it. J
Balance out that negativity bias.
If you'd like to learn more about the Care Course and how you can sign up to join live classes like this Careblazer attended, you can watch my free class on How To Care For A Loved One With Dementia Without The Overwhelm, Dread, and Confusion at: