Staying connected to loved ones is very important to individuals with dementia. While your loved one may not communicate or socialize in the same manner as before, the human connection still has immense value. And this can benefit you both. Here are some helpful tips to make your visits more successful:
- Plan a visit for the time of day when your loved one is at his or her best.
- Prepare for your visit with reasonable expectations. Your time together may be different now, but it still can have meaning for you both.
- Direct your focus to your loved one. Multi-tasking may add confusion and even frustration.
- Make eye contact and address him or her by name.
- Speak in a clear voice and slowly enough so your words can be understood.
- Talk about the good news you can remember to help assure and comfort him or her.
- Share memories. Reminiscing can be much easier for those with dementia.
- Avoid corrections or arguments which lead to stress and frustration on both sides.
- Be an effective, active listener. Provide lots of time for your loved one to talk and then really listen to what is being said. Pay attention to the emotion being expressed.
- Don’t rush through your visit and be relaxed. This will help put your loved one at ease.
- If conversations are a challenge, pack a bag with familiar items or activities to engage him or her. Enjoy your time together by arranging flowers or pictures in an album or doing simple tasks like cutting coupons or folding laundry.
- Remember that the disease process can cause negative reactions at times. If your loved one doesn’t recognize you, is unkind or responds angrily, he or she is reacting out of confusion. Try to be patient and understanding.
- Stay as long as you are comfortable. The time is for you as well as your loved one.
- A good visit may last several minutes or several hours — there is no set timeline.
Enjoy your visit!