The holidays are a special time to visit with loved ones. Even those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia benefit from time spent with family and friends. Visits can be a source of support and comfort, and a way to stay connected with others. Whether or not your loved one is able to remember who their visitors are, the human connection holds tremendous value. Here are some tips for making the most of your visit.
Think about the timing of your visit.
It’s helpful to know what your loved one may be involved in throughout the day. Feel free to call the facility and ask how their day is going and if it is a good day to visit. We recommend getting to know the staff as they are an excellent resource to you and can help you understand how your loved one is doing.
It’s about the quality of time, not quantity.
Shorter visits may be more successful than longer visits. Due to changes in their disease process, your loved one may have limited concentration and difficulty with communication. We suggest being flexible, realistic and as relaxed as possible during your visit. Understanding that the elder needs a balance of activity and rest can help you be aware of non-verbal cues that they are ready to be finished with the visit.
Plan visit activities ahead of time.
Many elders with dementia can forget how to initiate conversations or activities on their own. By using a variety of activities that match well with the person’s abilities, your visit may be more enjoyable. It can even help retain your loved one’s sense of positive self-esteem.
Some ideas include self-expression opportunities like painting, singing, crafts or playing musical instruments. People with dementia often enjoy singing or listening to familiar songs or hymns. If they are able, dancing is also a great activity. Try reading a favorite poem, book or magazine. Keep in mind, if something doesn’t work one visit, it doesn’t mean it won’t work on the next visit.
Consider leaving a card or small gift.
Leaving your loved one a small gift or card is a great way for your loved one to know they are cared about. It is something they can continue to enjoy, and it also let’s other family and friends that come to visit know you stopped by to say hello, which can be encouraging for everyone.
We hope these tips will help you make visits easy on yourself and your loved one so you can concentrate on enjoying your time together. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for more ideas or suggestions particular to your loved one.