Even if your older adult has Alzheimer’s or dementia, they may still enjoy having visitors. But it takes skill from both sides to have a positive experience when visiting someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
So, set your visitors up for success by sharing some do’s and don’ts ahead of time. Having a great visit and understanding more about dementia might even encourage family and friends to visit more often.
Daily caring explains how to plan ahead for successful visits and share essential do’s and don’ts that create a positive experience by helping family and friends know what to say and do.
Tips for planning visits strategically:
- Limit visitors to one or two people at a time. Too many people can be overwhelming.
- Schedule visits for the time of day when your older adult is usually at their best
- Minimize distractions by keeping the environment calm and quiet. Turn off the TV and loud music and ask any non-visitors to go to another room.
- Send this list to your visitors ahead of time so they’ll have time to absorb the information.
Essential do’s and don’ts for visiting someone with dementia:
- Always introduce yourself even if you’re sure they must know you. “HI Grandma, I’m Joe, your grandson”
- Keep your tone and body language friendly and positive.
- Don’t speak too loudly.
- Make eye contact and stay at their eye level.
- Speak slowly and in short sentences with only one idea per sentence. For example: “Hi Mary. I’m Jane, your friend.” or “What a beautiful day. The sunshine is nice, isn’t it?” or “Tell me about your daughter.”
- Give them extra time to speak or answer questions, don’t rush the conversation. It may take as long as 30 seconds. If you interrupt while they are processing the wait time starts over. Be patient.
- Use open-ended questions because there are no right or wrong answers.
- Be OK with sitting together in silence. They may enjoy that just as much as talking.
- Follow their lead; don’t force conversation topics or activities.
- Validate their feelings. Allow them to express sadness, fear or anger.
- Enter their reality. Go with the flow of the conversation even if they talk about things that aren’t true or don’t make sense.
- Share and discuss memories of the past. They’re more likely to remember things from long ago.
- Come prepared with an activity, like something to read out loud, a photo album to look at, or some of their favorite music to listen to.
- Give hugs, gentle touches, or massage arms or shoulders if the person gives permission and enjoys it.
- Don’t say, “Do you remember?” This can cause anger or embarrassment.
- Don’t argue. If they say something that’s not correct, just let it go.
- Don’t point out mistakes. It just makes them feel badly and doesn’t help the conversation.
- Don’t assume they don’t remember anything. Many people have moments of clarity.
- Don’t take mean or nasty things they say personally. The disease may twist their words or make them react badly out of confusion, fear, or anger.
- Don’t talk down to them. They aren’t children and you should show the proper respect.
- Don’t talk about them with other people as if they’re not there.
Taking just a bit of time to prepare before visiting can help to make your visit enjoyable.
Article from: Senior Times South Central Michigan- August 2019 Issue Volume 26-08.