Snoezelen and watching your television May 2004

Written by Ilse Achterberg
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To illustrate the heart of snoezelen you can compare it perfectly with watching your television. Of course you must consider your television as a synonym for the elderly people with dementia.


First of all you must turn on your television. You have to be in contact with the stations. Next, your television is a never ending and continuous source of information, images and music. There are a numberless amount of stations active on your television. They all have a long list of programs which they all put on air.

See what you want to see

The choice for one specific channel determines what you as a viewer will able to see. All the other stations or channels you cannot see, but they are certainly still there and broadcasting too. It is impossible to watch all the channels at once, because then you see and hear everything but also nothing.

So if you want to watch an other program or channel, you simply push the button on your remote control. In case there is some interference on your television you quickly adjust the active channel by turning the right button.

The story moral

Not the one who is broadcasting, but the person who receives the channel (the viewer) decides what message (program) will be heard. And, if there is any interference the receiver is to be blamed and you cannot blame the broadcaster. He is always in the air on his own fixed channel (frequency) For it is that the receiver (viewer) has not properly tuned in to that channel.

Conclusion: the receiver (viewer) determines the content as well as the quality of the message that's been send.

Some things we all know and understand.

- You watch television. You don't talk to it! Because if you do you will not be able to hear and clearly see what's going on. You can't do two or three things at the same time.

- In case of any interference you as a viewer take action to adjust your channel and make it work again.

- As a viewer (receiver) you can see and hear what you want to hear; you simply switch the channels on your television.

{mospagebreak}Back to the basics of Snoezelen

- First of all ; a care worker (viewer/receiver) must make any form of contact with the old and dement person. The care worker has to tune in to the right frequency (channel) of the elderly people he/she works with.

- Secondly ; a care worker (viewer/receiver) must watch and listen to his patients otherwise it is impossible to see and understand the message or emotion that the patient is sending.

- And third ; if there is any form interference or misunderstanding the care worker (viewer/receiver) must adjust the frequency (channel), because old people with dementia are only capable to send or broadcast at their own frequency or channel. They are not capable to adjust their program to the person who is watching them.

The reality of Snoezelen often seen in daily care

But what do we often see in practice how care workers treat their elderly people with dementia (their television set):

- Too many don't even switch on their television. They don't make any attempt to make contact with their patients (stations) at all. They do their job, walk around, sit down, push and pull people around, just start talking and simply call things that are on their minds.

- Too many choose only one channel (frequency) to receive. Often the only channel they know of. They always hear and see the same things. They never receive any other program that is broadcasted by their television (patient) at another channel.

- Too many , even if they are able to tune in to the right frequency (channel) of the patient, starting talking and talking and talking. Often care workers try to explain or convince their patients of all kinds of believes or behaviour they think are naturally between normal people. This way they continuously disturb the message broadcasted by their patients. They see or hear simply nothing.

- Too many , in case of interference or misunderstanding, blame the old person with dementia. They simply say; "their channel is out of the air" so to speak. But that is never the case. It might be difficult to find the right channel (frequency) and perhaps it takes some time and effort, but it is certainly still there. The care worker only has to adjust his receiving button to change the channel, but a mass of care workers simply give up their television (patient).

Recommendation and conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen care workers: please read, while enjoying a good glass of wine, again your manual of your television set. In there you can read how to treat elderly people with dementia and the basic condition for snoezelen; making contact.

So you see, changing your channel once in a while can open a whole new world of interesting thoughts.

PS: I never knew that those technicians who wrote that television manual knew so much about snoezelen. Is it possible that there are more people who know more then we all think???


Ilse Achterberg Snoezel Coach

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