Managing difficult behaviors, hallucinations, and delusions with validation and redirection

This post will be of interest to those caregivers coping with dementia.

The title of an article on ElderCare Online suggests it’s about managing difficult behaviors. Actually, the article offers practical tips for managing difficult behaviors, hallucinations, and delusions.

Tips are given for dealing with the situation where a family member with dementia sees a rabbit on the sofa, asserts that you are not the spouse, insists that it’s time for breakfast (even though it’s “really” time for dinner), wants to re-arrange the cupboards, or gets “underfoot” all day long.

Some of these tips are based on Naomi Feil’s validation therapy. The author explains: “First, the idea behind validation therapy is to ‘validate’ or accept the values, beliefs and ‘Reality’ of the dementia person – even if it has no basis in your reality.”

And, the author says: “The key is to ‘agree’ with what they want but by conversation and ‘steering’ get them to do something else without them realizing they are actually being redirected. This is both validation and redirection therapy. Does this always work? NO! But it has a pretty high success rate because it is so non-confrontational.”

Three examples are given about how a conversation might go when the person with dementia wants to find his car keys, starts leaving the house, or wants to use the phone.

Based on the copyright, it looks like this article was written in 2000. Someone referred to it recently on an online Alzheimer’s support group. It’s posted to ElderCare Online ( See:

Using Validation Therapy to Manage Difficult Behaviors
by Jan Allen, CSW, MSE
ElderCare Online (