Remaining engaged with others is essential for those living with dementia so they can enjoy their highest quality of life. However, it’s not uncommon for families and friends to hesitate to make the effort to visit them due to uncertainty about how to make the connection a positive experience.
With planning and careful consideration, getting together can bring joy to the individual while also creating meaningful memories for everyone involved.
Tips for visiting a loved one living with dementia
Consider these suggestions:
1. Plan ahead
It’s best to prepare for your visit. If you’re not familiar with what might be best for the resident, talk with the primary caregiver. Also, schedule your visits for the time of day that is typically most suitable. Evenings can be more challenging for many who are living with dementia.
2. Consider preferences
When choosing activities, consider the individual’s preferences as well as capabilities. Dementia is a progressive disease and adjustments will often need to be made. Think about past hobbies or passions for ideas or speak to the primary caregiver for suggestions.
3. Minimize anxiety
Try to minimize anxiety when visiting. Introduce yourself if appropriate and take other steps to put everyone at ease. Don’t put them on the spot to remember names or memories. Always respect the person as an adult and not treat them as a child.
4. Minimize distractions
Creating the right background can go a long way toward having a great visit. Try to avoid spaces that have distractions which can make conversations or concentration a challenge. Look for areas that are less busy, preferably without televisions playing or other interruptions.
5. Meet the individual where he or she is
It is crucial to understand what the person living with dementia is experiencing. Although memories may be fading or facts mis-remembered, don’t argue with their reality. Try compassionate agreement or distraction, even if you know they are in error.
Activity ideas when visiting a loved one living with dementia
1. Bring along photo albums or scrap books
Many families and friends have found it a great experience to sit with a loved one and browse through an old photo album or scrap book. It may stimulate or trigger a long-ago memory that the individual would enjoy reliving.
2. Make a memory box together
Gather items and objects that represent a favorite time or hobby and create a memory box. This provides an opportunity for them to reminisce but also leaves behind something they can browse through later, either by themselves or show to a staff member or another visitor.
3. Watch a movie or television show together
Does your loved one have a favorite genre of movie or did they love a certain television series that you could reshare together? Make it a special time and bring in snacks, a cozy blanket or other ways to create the perfect setting.
4. Share a musical event or sing-along
Music has long been credited for providing a soothing experience, but it can also trigger memories from the past. Consider bringing in favorite music to play or encourage a sing-along. Later you can talk about the time when the songs were first heard or what activity was remembered.
5. Take a walk outside or go for a drive
If your loved one would appreciate spending time in nature, suggest going for a walk and enjoying the sunshine. If a drive would be appreciated, a tour of the old neighborhood or seeing the seasonal leaves change their colors can be a joyful way to share a visit together.
How a memory care community can help promote positive visits
As a progressive disease, those living with dementia often find themselves eventually needing more care than can be provided at home. One of the many advantages that a memory care community can provide is the help offered to family and friends, including positive ways to interact with their loved ones.
Staffs are specially trained in the best practices of dementia and can share ideas or suggestions to try as well as provide emotional support for the family.
Life at a Milestone Community
If you’re looking at options for retirement living, we invite your family to visit one of our Milestone communities - designed to support your loved ones to live their highest quality of life.
We offer studio and one-bedroom private apartments for our assisted living residents as well as private or shared memory care suites for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. We also offer studio, one and two-bedroom apartments in our independent living communities.
Our memory care residents are cared for by our compassionate and specially trained team who meet them wherever they are in their journey with patience and kindness. The residents also have access to customized activities, programs and secured outdoor courtyard spaces.
Our amenities and services encourage our residents in assisted living to engage with others, remain as independent as possible and be reassured that help is available whenever needed.
In addition to our personalized services, we offer:
Full-service dining room and bistro/bar
Clubroom with large screen and theater style seating
Family gathering room
Resident accessible chef’s kitchen garden
Senior-inspired fitness center
Hair and nail salon
Resident-shared laundry rooms
Elegantly designed common areas
24-hour on-duty care staff
Direct access to adjoining walking paths and parks
If your family is considering retirement living, we hope you will visit one of our communities. We are a trusted resource and are here to answer any questions. Please contact us with any questions you may have or to arrange a personal tour.
We invite you to download our complimentary Senior Living Options Guide.