Visiting Loved Ones With Alzheimer’s or Dementia: Do’s & Don’ts
It can be quite difficult to experience a loved one who is suffering from early or advanced stage dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. Visiting a friend or family member who is experiencing lapses in memory or changes in behavior due can be challenging, but it is quite meaningful for all involved — the patient and visitor alike. In this piece, we’re going to examine some of the things you’ll want to not do and do when visiting someone suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.
- bring up the idea of memory. Asking someone with dementia to recall anything is not polite and may cause immense frustration.
- use any critical terms. Pointing out failing, mistakes or messes may aggravate someone with cognitive difficulties.
- talk around them. Always include the patient in any conversation happening in their presence. Speaking as though they can’t hear or understand you is inconsiderate.
- correct them on inconsequential points. Arguing with someone who is irrational can cause intense frustration for the patient and visitor alike.
- ask them sensitive questions. Keep all questions simple and inconsequential, giving them plenty of time to answer.
- schedule visitations appropriately. The idea of “the more, the merrier” does not apply. Too many people can be overwhelming for dementia patients. Keep visitation to one or two people at a time.
- remove distractions. Televisions, radios, phones and other noise-creating devices should be turned off and stowed away if possible.
- prepare other visitors. Just as you’re preparing now, make sure that other visitors are sensitive to the needs of the patient. Make sure all preparations are done before arriving for visitation.
- remain positive. Keep all of your bodily movements intentional and somewhat slower so as not to startle the individual.
- identify yourself. Even if this is a parent, grandparent, or close friend, make sure to introduce yourself. State your name and your relationship with them. “My name is Marco. I am your nephew.”
- talk in short, simple sentences. Trying to comprehend longer sentences may be difficult for those with dementia. Keep statements and questions very short and to the point.
- follow their pace. Guage their mood and level of energy. Never urge them to do something they don’t want to do.
- give the person affection. If the patient is comfortable with a hug, feel free to give them one. Always ask first and tell them that you are going to hug them so there are no surprises.
At times, you may wonder if the person you’re visiting even realizes that it is you whom they are visiting. Regardless of this, visitations can help those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia on many different levels.