Help for Caregivers

Posted 6/28/19

On communication: ‘the dance’ technique

Susan Hardy, community care manager with the Chatham Council on Aging, shares a technique for communicating with an argumentative person with dementia …

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Help for Caregivers

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On communication: ‘the dance’ technique

Susan Hardy, community care manager with the Chatham Council on Aging, shares a technique for communicating with an argumentative person with dementia that she calls “the dance.” Its four steps are align, agree, realign and resolve.

ALIGN: Like two partners dancing side-by-side, this is where you line up with whatever the other person is saying — even if they’re talking about someone who has been dead a long time.

AGREE: Agree with them (i.e. “Oh, yes, I remember that”). At this point in the dance, both partners move forward.

REALIGN: If you want to get the other person’s mind off the subject at hand, this is where you realign them to a different subject. In dancing terms, here is where the partners twirl.

RESOLVE: At this point, you have the other person’s mind off the subject they were so adamant about. The partners resolve and take a bow.

Additionally, never approach someone with dementia from behind and touch them, Hardy says. They have lost their peripheral vision, so remember that you have to get in front of them to make sure they see you.

Selected books by Jessica Bryan

I Am Not a Village (2015): Bryan documents the experiences of caring for her then-95-year-old mother while offering practical caregiving solutions.

The Memory Keeper (2018): Bryan candidly explores the raw and sad, but also humorous in parts, experience of caring for her mother as Alzheimer’s progresses.

The Mighty Ant: An Anthology of Short Stories for Seniors (2018): This collection of short, short stories — all of which are 750 words long or shorter — was written for with those with memory impairment, dementia or compromised attention spans.

For full list, visit

(note: For those searching for author information on the Jessica Bryan from this story, there is another Jessica Bryan with an author page on Amazon. Jessica Bryan of Pittsboro publishes as Jessica J. Bryan, not Jessica Bryan.)


Chatham County Council on Aging resources

Eastern Chatham Senior Center

365 NC Hwy 87 N, Pittsboro


Western Chatham Senior Center

112 Village Lake Road, Siler City


The grief of caregiving

“I can’t say how all caregivers react, but I do know that for those with whom I speak from the vantage point of being a facilitator of caregiving support groups, there are many who feel the same. We grieve over a long period of time. Each slipping-away moment causes us angst, stress and sadness. We go through the many phases of letting go, while first denying, then railing angrily against the disease and the manifestations. We find humor, comfort from others and sometimes even respite time. We discover strength within ourselves. We do things we never ever dreamed of doing. Finally we begin to accept the inevitable and while we still experience daily frustrations, impatience, stressful times and moments of anger followed by feelings of guilt, we live with all of this. We roll up our sleeves and do what must be done.” — Jessica Bryan, from the essay “Caregiving,” April 2019

Dementia Friendly Communities

WHAT: Jackie Green of the Chatham County Council on Aging shares what a dementia-friendly community looks like and why being dementia-friendly is economically beneficial.

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, June 27

WHERE: Pittsboro Roadhouse. 39 West Street, Pittsboro

HOW MUCH: The cost of your lunch order



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