Columbo (You know & I don’t know)

For those unfamiliar with the 1980’s American TV character, Columbo was the bumbling cop who came across to villains as an ignorant fool because he asked questions that showed he didn’t understand. However, he gets the crook by the end of the show. As Columbo you adopt an “I don’t know” stance that values what the person with dementia thinks and wants. You apologise for not understanding. You ask questions. You seek to understand. You put them in the expert position

Yes this is strategic. It is also the right thing to do from an ethical point of view. What the person prefers is valuable. Your goal here is to lift them up in the interaction by giving them importance and priority so they can contribute their perspective. They may be having difficulty finding the words to explain what they want. You can ask questions that help them clarify to themselves and to you. This is useful if you are both stuck in a disagreement about what should happen next. Often the steam will go from the interaction and you can then move to Collaborator with the person to find a mutually agreeable solution.

Tomorrow is the Collaborator