Elder Care Tips: How To Prepare For Visits With A Loved One Who Has Alzheimer’s
Do you regularly provide elder care or care for a loved one having or showing signs of Alzheimer’s?
September is World Alzheimer’s Month in which efforts are made to raise awareness and end the stigma that persists around dementia. It’s a perfect time to increase your understanding and awareness particularly if you have a loved one that you will be visiting during the upcoming holiday season. Also, if you are a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s who will be receiving guests during the holidays, it’s important to provide guidance and greater awareness to visitors prior to their visit.
This holidays season may be the first time in more than a year that family and friends will be visiting a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Many people are vaccinated, and it is becoming safer to travel since the onset of COVID-19 brought travel to a halt. It may have been a year or more since your loved one has had in person visitors. Maybe you’ve been having regular video visits, but soon your loved one will be having in person visits. As the caregiver, it’s important to prepare visitors who will be showing up at your home. As the visitor, you can also take pre-emptive measures to help prepare yourself for your visit.
My mother has vascular dementia which is one important reason why our law firm proudly promotes World Alzheimer’s Month. Visiting someone with dementia of any kind requires a degree of consideration that visiting with anyone else doesn’t require. I am providing a list of tips for caregivers to help prepare your loved one for visitors. And I’m providing a list of do’s and don’ts for visitors from dailycaring.com, a website devoted to providing information for caregivers as well as anyone involved in the life of someone with dementias. I hope these tips will make your visit with your loved one less stressful and more enjoyable for both of you. As the caregiver, you might want to send this list to those people you know are planning a visit.
Elder Care Tips For Caregivers:
- Limit visitors to 1 or 2 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 or 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.
Elder Care Tips For Visitors:
I am never sure what to expect when I visit my mom. Because of this, I find the list of what not to do more important for me, because it is so easy to say things like, “Remember when…?” So, I am sharing the list of don’ts first.
- Don’t say “do you remember?” This can cause anger or embarrassment.
- Don’t argue. If they say something that you know is not correct, just let it go.
- Don’t speak loudly.
- Don’t point out mistakes. It just makes them feel badly and doesn’t help the conversation.
- Do not 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, frustration, fear, or anger.
- Do your best not to talk down to a person with dementia. They aren’t children and they deserve to be shown proper respect.
- Do not under any circumstances talk about them with other people as if they’re not there.
Now, for the Do’s:
- Keep your tone and body language friendly and positive.
- Make eye contact and stay at their eye level.
- Introduce yourself even if you’re sure they must know you. “Hi Grandma, I’m Joe, your grandson.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.