A woman takes a walk with an older loved one, following the dos and don’ts for dementia visits.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s may also mean a diagnosis for loneliness. Though remaining social is still vitally necessary for people who have dementia, a number of factors can cause an increase in isolation, such as:

  • Effects of the disease that make it difficult to communicate effectively
  • Discomfort on the part of family and friends who are unsure what to say (or not to say)
  • The need to discontinue driving
  • And more

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a good time to figure out how to overcome any obstacles to staying connected to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

What Are the Dos and Don’ts for Dementia Visits?

First, know you’re not alone in feeling uncomfortable or awkward. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can trigger some irregular and challenging behaviors. The person you know has changed. You might wonder if they will even recognize who you are, and if not, should you even visit?

The reality is that whether or not the individual is confused about who you are, the chance to spend time with a friendly companion is priceless. Plan to leave your personal feelings about the visit at the door when you arrive. Concentrate entirely on how you can bring the person you love joy by putting on a caring, positive, and nonjudgmental attitude.

To make your time together successful, keep these dos and don’ts for dementia visits in mind:

Try to…

  • Make eye contact.
  • Step into the role of any alternative reality the person is experiencing. For instance, they may believe they are a school teacher preparing for an upcoming class. Continue the conversation according to their lead and direction.
  • Expect that the individual might not answer a question or react to a statement. Allow intervals of silence, knowing that just being there is beneficial.
  • Bring an activity to share: pictures to look at together, some memorabilia to make a connection with the past, music to listen to, an easy craft or hobby, etc.
  • Relax your body posture.
  • Use a calm, slow style of speaking.
  • Ask questions that include an either-or option: “I brought some treats. Do you want a cookie or a muffin?”
  • Introduce yourself in brief, to-the-point sentences: “Hi, Aunt Jill. I am Sally, your niece. It is so good to see you.”
  • Take a seat if the person is seated to make sure you remain at eye level.

Try not to…

  • Talk to them as if they were a child.
  • Take anything personally or allow it to hurt your feelings. People who have dementia may yell, curse, or say things they don’t mean. This is a direct effect of the disease, and not coming from the person.
  • Argue with or correct your loved one.
  • Show any frustration, anger, fear, or other negative emotions. The individual will recognize your body language and tone of voice and respond accordingly.
  • Ask if they remember a person or event, which might cause confusion or frustration.
  • Talk about them with other individuals in the room, as if they aren’t there.

How Else Can I Help Someone With Dementia Have a Better Quality of Life?

One of the best ways to help is by partnering with Absolute Companion Care. Our dementia care specialists are fully trained and experienced in all aspects of dementia care. We serve as skilled companions to allow for regular social connections with someone with dementia. We can also offer a variety of resources, educational materials, and ideas to help make life the best it can be for someone you love.

Contact us online or call us any time at 410-357-9640 to learn more about our specialized home and dementia care in Towson, Timonium, Monkton, and the surrounding communities.