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How Caregiver “Vibes” Can Affect Persons with Dementia

A caregivers “Vibe” can affect persons with dementia. Have you ever felt an immediate “like” or “dislike” of someone as soon as you both met?

Are there people in your environment that brighten up a room when they walk in? Do you know of others who do the same thing…when they leave?

In these situations, you are picking up on the energies of others. Their “vibes.”

In the clinical setting, I use a tuning fork to check if a person can feel vibrations, especially if I am concerned about nerve damage from diabetes. This is because everyone has nerves which can feel vibrations and pass those vibration sensations up to the brain. I Even though we cannot hear or see those vibrations, we can still feel them.

Watch what happens when a vibrating tuning fork goes into a glass of water. It happens so fast that the video makers slowed down the filming to show you what is really happening.

Did you notice the water suddenly splash out of the glass?  The vibrations from the tuning fork “agitated” the water.


So, what does this have to do with persons with dementia? These individuals, even if they cannot communicate verbally, can still pick up on caregiver “vibes” or moods. In other words, moods can be contagious: both good AND bad. If I’m in a good mood, my loved one may seem happy, calm, and cooperative. On the other hand,  if I’m feeling exhausted or resentful or angry—even if these feelings have NOTHING to do with my family member with dementia—my loved one can feel agitated, just like the water became agitated. This unsettled or worried feeling may express itself as refusals or resistance to care.

I  build on this “vibe” issue in other blogs: Therapeutic Fibbing and Entering Their Reality.

Want more information? I provide monthly webinars and individual coaching for caregivers who would like to learn more about dementia, and how to successfully deal with frustrating or scary behaviors. Click here!


Categories: Dementia Understanding Behaviors

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Dr. Rita Jablonski

Rita Jablonski, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FGSA is a nurse practitioner, researcher, tenured professor, and former family caregiver. Her research and practice involve all aspects of dementia management; she is best known for non-drug strategies to address dementia-related behaviors.

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