Visiting a Loved One Living with Dementia

18 Tips to make visiting a loved one living with dementia more meaningful and positive.

Visiting a loved one living with dementia requires patience, understanding, and adaptability. Sometimes family members are hesitant to visit because they feel awkward – unsure of what to do or say. This can mean fewer visits and more isolation for the person with dementia and nobody wants that.

We want to help families stay connected and have comfortable, enjoyable visits in spite of the disease.

Please email us at [email protected] and we’ll send you these tips on a printable document suitable for posting.

Here are those tips…

  1. Plan Ahead: Coordinate your visit with the staff at the facility to ensure your loved one is in a good mood and receptive to visitors. Choose a time when they are most alert and comfortable.
  1. Create a Familiar Environment: Bring items from home that hold sentimental value, such as family photos, favorite music, or familiar objects. These can help trigger positive memories and conversations.
  1. Be Present: Focus on being in the moment during your visit. Put away distractions like phones to give your loved one your full attention.
  1. Use Simple Language: Speak slowly and use simple, clear language. Avoid complicated sentences or questions that might confuse them.
  1. Maintain Eye Contact: Maintain friendly eye contact to help establish a connection. Nonverbal cues can often communicate more effectively than words.
  1. Stay Positive: Use a positive and calm tone of voice. Your loved one may pick up on your emotions, so maintaining a positive attitude can help create a relaxed atmosphere.
  1. Listen Actively: Encourage them to talk and share their thoughts. Listen actively and respond with empathy, even if their conversation is fragmented or repetitive.
  1. Engage in Activities: Bring along simple, enjoyable activities such as looking through old photo albums, doing puzzles, or listening to their favorite music.

  1. Follow Their Lead: Let your loved one guide the conversation and activities. If they show interest in a particular topic, engage with it, even if it seems random.
  1. Be Patient: Dementia can cause communication difficulties and memory lapses. Give your loved one time to respond and avoid correcting them if they get things wrong.
  1. Physical Touch: Offer gentle touch if appropriate, such as holding their hand or giving a hug. Physical contact can convey comfort and reassurance.
  1. Limit Choices: Offer limited choices to avoid overwhelming them. For instance, ask if they’d like tea or coffee rather than presenting an array of options.
  1. Use Visual Cues: Point to objects or use gestures to help them understand what you’re saying. Visual cues can aid communication.
  1. Engage the Senses: Use sensory experiences like aromatherapy, soft textures, or soothing music to create a calming and pleasant environment.
  1. Monitor Comfort: Pay attention to signs of discomfort or fatigue. If your loved one seems tired or agitated, it might be time to end the visit.
  1. Share Moments of Joy: Focus on sharing moments of joy, laughter, and connection. It’s these emotional connections that can leave a lasting positive impact.
  1. Capture Memories: Consider taking photos or recording snippets of your visit to cherish later and share with other family members.
  1. Respect Their Pace: Keep in mind that your loved one’s energy and attention span may be limited. Shorter, more frequent visits might be more effective than long ones.

Remember that every individual with dementia is unique, so these tips may need to be adapted based on your loved one’s preferences and needs. The key is to approach your visits with love, compassion, and flexibility.

Please email us at [email protected] and we’ll send you these tips on a printable document suitable for posting.

We also offer training for caregivers. Click here for details.

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