Skills for Visiting a Loved One in Memory Care
- April 1, 2015
Often communicating with loved ones with dementia can be challenging. They either don’t remember who you are or they have lost some of their ability to communicate effectively. Here are some visiting tips to help smooth along the process.
Call Them By Name
“Hi Mary, you sure look pretty today.” vs “Hi Mom, how are you doing?” Remember that as theior disease progresses, they may regress in age and memory. They man not remember you as an adult but as a smaller and much younger person.
Stop Correcting Them
Husband (with dementia): “Hey honey! Do you remember when we all went to the moon?” Wife: “Oh Freddie, we never went to the moon, that’s just silly!” Instead, enter their reality and go with the flow. Changing your response can lead to a very meaningful conversation for them.
Husband (with dementia): “Hey honey! Do you remember when we all went to the moon?” Wife: “That was a really great time wasn’t it? What was your favorite part of that trip?” Husband: “I loved fishing with the kids. It was a beautiful day.” “Moon” may really mean river, but the word is difficult to find, or he may not recognize that the word “moon” isn’t appropriate in that sentence. Correcting your loved on can bring anxiety and agitation or may cause them to withdraw and quit conversing with you.
Bring in a Gift or a Goodie
Who doesn’t love cookies? or ice cream? Sharing a treat together can be very meaningful or wrapping up a book or picture frame with a picture of something they enjoy and letting them open it. It doesn’t have to be new. Just having something to open is fun and can allow fun conversation.
Create a Treasure Box to Keep in Their Room
This can be an old shoe box or a photo box. Fill it with pictures, with labels of the people and places in the photos, and items that your loved one enjoys. You can pull out this box when you visit to give you enjoyable things to talk about.
Chewing gum, cracker jacks, crotchet hooks and yarn, fishing tackle, tools, funny stories, lyrics to a favorite song, recipe cards – you get the idea. Just remember, do not bring items of value because they will get lost. It may even be safe to make two boxes with the same things for back up.
When it is time, do not talk about going home because they will obviously want to go “home” with you. Tell them that you have to go to the dentist, school, work – somewhere that they would not want to go with you.