The Holidays are about family and get togethers. If you have a loved one who is experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s, these times can be filled with breaks in routine, stress and frustrations. These patients still love getting visitors, just be sure to plan your visits to make them enjoyable for everyone.
- Plan your visit carefully. Limit visitors to 1-2 people at a time and space out multiple visits.
- Schedule your visit at a time of day when your loved one is usually at their best. For some, this may be morning. While others may prefer later in the afternoon.
- Keep the environment as close to “normal” as possible. Don’t turn on loud music or televisions unless requested.
- If a long time has passed since your loved one has seen these visitors, the primary care givers to remind the person who is coming for a day or two before the visit. Include photos if possible.
While Visiting, DO:
- Take your cues from the patient. If the patient seems agitated or stressed, cut your visit short and promise to come back again soon.
- During your visit stay calm and try to avoid being loud.
- Always make eye contact and talk directly to the person.
- Remember to introduce yourself even if you are confident the person will recognize you. Include your name and your relationship. Hi Mom. “I’m Susan, your daughter.”
- Talk in simple sentences and easy to follow topics. Use open ended questions with no right or wrong answer.
- Give the person extra time to respond. They may just be absorbing what you said.
- Be OK with silence.
- Validate how the person is feeling and be as agreeable as possible.
While Visiting, DON’T:
- Never say “Do you remember….?” This statement can cause the person to get angry or embarrassed.
- Don't Argue. Just ignore inaccurate information.
- Don’t point out mistakes.
- Don’t assume the person doesn’t remember something. In a moment of clarity, your loved one may surprise you. But, this is not always the case. Let your loved one lead.
- Don’t take anything they say personally. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can cause people to say and do things they would typically never consider.
- Never talk about the person as if they aren’t present.
Visiting a loved one suffering from these cruel diseases can be rewarding and give you memories to keep a lifetime. Just make sure you are prepared for the visit.