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It is a known fact that babies who are smiled at as babies grow up to be happier more confident children. And new research is showing that this need – to be smiled at and feel that people genuinely care about you – is just as important to older people, especially those who are beginning to suffer from the onset of dementia and other such neurological conditions too. Let’s take a closer look.
Keeps Them Calm
Just like babies, who can pick up on Mum’s emotions, especially if Mum is angry or upset, older people can often read their carer’s emotions or moods from their body language and facial expressions. For older people who are reluctant to accept help that they desperately need, a grumpy carer can be off-putting and make the resident feel vulnerable, unwanted and as though they are a burden. A smiling face and relaxed body language will keep residents calm and more willing to accept assistance with dressing and eating.
Helps Patient Compliance
Is it easy to underestimate the importance to a resident of having a familiar and friendly face in their care home. Studies have shown that patients are far more likely to relax and trust their nurse or carer when they are friendly and warm – even if they have never met before. And this is very understandable: we humans have an instinct to like or prefer positive people wo are nice to us, and it is clear that this trait arrives early in life and does not leave us until very late in life.
As well as this, positive people working in friendly care homes in Somerset: nurses, carers, even cleaners, who are friendly and smiling are more likely to be recognised more readily and for longer than those who are surly or even have neutral expressions. This can be a useful tool to help patients with dementia: forgetting who people are can be very distressing for them.
Expand into SMILE
This theory has actually been expanded into a SMILE tool to help patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s:
Stages of Life: accept that this is a time of life when the elderly person is more dependent and frail. Accepting that a previously strong parent or grandparent is beginning to fail can be hard, but learning to accept it with grace and good humour is so useful for the patient in question.
Moments: saving good moments to look back on and reflect upon with smiling carers or relatives is a wonderful way to gently exercise that failing memory.
Interconnect: rather than having nurses pigeonholed here, family over there, and old friends in yet a third place, it is best to draw all the contacts together for special occasions and celebrations. Memory is a network and thrives on making positive connections: the happier and more connected your elderly relative is, the better they will do.
Laugh Out Loud: enjoying good company with plenty of banter and chat enlivens older people, giving them a new lease on life (sometimes literally). We are social animals and even the most introverted of us needs a measure of human contact to feel fulfilled and content.
Experiment: try new things with your elderly relative to see what activities or places they respond to the best. Finding the things that make them smile or laugh, or that returns them to their old self is a wonderful feeling for both of you, sure to raise a smile and you spirits too!