In 1967, The Beatles sang, “All You Need Is Love.” According to the research of Dr. Tom Kitwood with Bradford University Dementia Group, they were partially right!
Dr. Kitwood found that all of us, whether we are living with dementia or not, share six common psychological needs. We all have the need for comfort, inclusion, social attachment, identity, meaningful occupation and love.
As we support these needs for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, we help them experience a greater sense of well-being. Let’s take a look at each of these six core needs:
Comfort. One of our most basic needs is the need for Comfort. This relates to both physical comfort as well as emotional comfort.
Inclusion. Inclusion is the need to feel completely accepted and included by others. We can support this need by making efforts to help people feel welcome and connected.
Attachment. This need refers to those relationships, bonds and connections we form with other people. We continue finding ways to help the person with dementia enjoy the social interaction and companionship that are so important to all of us.
Identity. We all have the need to maintain a sense of identity. It’s important to honor the preferences and life experiences of the person with dementia. What are the person’s interests, hobbies and values? What was their professional background? What are their spiritual convictions?
Occupation. We also have the need to feel like we are involved in something personally meaningful, some endeavor where we can utilize our skills and abilities. Individuals living with dementia want to be involved in activities that have a purpose, are age-appropriate and take into consideration their unique life histories.
Love. As the five previous needs are met, we feel a greater sense of love.
By supporting each of these core needs through our care practice and interactions, we can help loved ones with dementia experience increased well-being and an overall improved quality of life.
Mike Direen is the Community Liaison for Adult Care Services, a non-profit organization that includes The Margaret T. Morris Center memory care community in Prescott and The Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center in Prescott Valley. For more information, please email Mike at mdireen@AdultCareServices.org.