Sometimes, it might feel difficult to visit our loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. You might feel frustrated that it doesn’t seem like you’re being recognized, or think that your loved one won’t even remember you were there. However, studies show that those with dementia can still benefit from your visit; they may enjoy being with others and may notice when you don’t come around as often as you used to.
What To Do While Visiting a Loved One with Dementia
It’s the time of year when we are thankful for all our many blessings and spend extra time with those we hold dear to our hearts. Talking to and dealing with dementia sufferers over the holidays can be a positive experience for all those involved, especially if you keep in mind the tips below:
Set realistic expectations. Prepare yourself for the visit each time by facing the reality that it’s possible your loved one may not remember you, or may display challenging or frustrating behaviors. Learn what times of the day loved ones are at their best, as usually there are certain times where they may be more confused and anxious, and schedule your visit within those time frames.
Make eye contact and introduce yourself. It’s important that your loved one sees you, so make face-to-face eye contact down at their level. Introduce yourself right away, so they do not get stressed or embarrassed that they don’t recognize you right away.
Speak slowly, asking questions one at a time. While you should be respectful and not treat your loved ones like a child or talk down to them, you should speak slowly and clearly, repeating yourself as needed. Let them answer questions in their own time, rather than bombarding them with multiple questions at once.
Minimize distractions in the room. Turn off the television and radio during your visit. Or, if you’re in a room with others that has become noisy or busy, move to another area. The more distractions there are in the room, the more difficult it will be to have any sort of conversation.
Bring along some photos or mementos. Looking at old photos with loved ones is not only fun, but it can also spark memories in those dealing with dementia. Your loved ones may be soothed by seeing familiar items, and may even be prompted to tell the story behind them.
Read a book or sing a song. If your loved one is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, communication may not be possible. Bring a favorite book and read a few chapters out loud. Or, load an mp3 player with some favorite music to sing along to. Music has been known to ease aggressive behaviors, one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and improve cognitive, speech and physical skills.
Avoid getting argumentative or negative. Lastly, while it may be difficult at times, remember that getting argumentative is not going to benefit anyone. You will not win! Also, avoid negative statements like “don’t do that.” Instead, try to refocus and validate their feelings.
Remember, even if your loved one no longer recognizes you, your presence alone can be enjoyable and soothing. Keep the visits up not just during the holiday season, but throughout the rest of the year, too.
American Senior Communities offers person-centered dementia care at our Auguste’s Cottage and a variety of assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.