When you look up the definition of Namaste, you will find the following: “I bow to you; a divine spark within each of us; the spirit within.” This is the premise of Joyce Simard’s book “Namaste Care,” which is about end-of-life care for people with dementia. She says she designed the Namaste Care Program to honor the spirit within for those who are in the end stages of dementia.
This approach addresses quality of life for the long term care resident but the tenets of such a program will have a positive impact for those being cared for at home as well. Namaste Care allows residents to be involved in life for as long as they have left as well as to be honored and cared for in a respectful manner.
Focusing on allowing all senses to be stimulated the program brings residents to a comfortable, homelike environment, usually a room designed specifically for the purpose of Namaste Care. The setting features ambient lighting, soothing music or nature sounds and diffused scents, most often lavender, as it has been shown to be a calming agent and to reduce anxiety. During the time residents are in the program, they are treated to hand massages, faces gently washed, men often shaved and hair gently combed. Sweet snacks are provided to stimulate appetite such as lollipops, puddings and ice cream.
The positive effects of this approach are long lasting for the recipient, family members and caregivers. Not only do may residents fall asleep during their time in the Namaste Care room but the resulting anxiety relief carries throughout the day. Family member anxiety and stress is also reduced as they witness the effects that this approach to care has had on their loved one. The Namaste caregivers’ quality of life increases as they perceive they truly have made a positive difference to these residents.
Honoring the “spirit within” does not end after the time the resident is in the Namaste Care room. It continues by honoring the spirit of the dying and immediately following death.
This book is a must read, not only for caregivers but for all who will inevitably deal with a loved one’s end stage of life and who want to know how to honor the “spirit within.” Namaste!