Identifying People to Build Relationships

Have you ever noticed that it's easier to connect with a new person when you know their name? You must have noticed that it’s way easier to catch someone’s attention when you call them by their first name!

This may seem obvious, but think about what people with Alzheimer's disease have to experience. Some may have to eat every day with people they don’t recognize, or receive care from a caregiver whose name they have forgotten. How would you feel if you were in their shoes? We don’t always realize the constant overwhelming efforts we ask from these people and the weight that this puts upon their shoulders. We have to understand that the simple and benign everyday situation can put patients at risk of anxiety and being disoriented.

The first and last name are elements that are attached very intimately to each person, but also prematurely and durably. Also, it’s been shown that people with neurocognitive disorders can read for a very long time due to their procedural memory. So, if possible, we suggest the identification of every member of your staff with simple name tags. Rather than the usual cockades with different information and a picture, use only the first name (or the way the person wants to be addressed) with an easy-to-read font.

This idea isn’t costly and is very simple to organize. It’s sure to help decrease the anxiety of your residents and improve their overall well-being. This approach has already been established in many nursing homes, particularly in Europe, and has proven itself over the years.

You can also identify your residents the same way, at least for group activities. A nice way to start this type of activity is to invite each person to introduce themselves and to tell their peers a little more about themselves.