January 27, 2023

Arrow Senior Living Discusses How to Have Meaningful Visits With Someone Living With Dementia

Category: Dementia Resources

Author: Elizabeth Thompson, Regional Director of Memory Care

Dementia is an umbrella term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, at least two parts of the brain are dying. Dementia is progressive, chronic, and terminal, which creates many challenges.  Relationships continue to be vital to families, regardless of a dementia diagnosis. At Arrow Senior Living we have some ideas and suggestions to help you have successful visits with your loved ones in our Neighborhoods.

The family member absolutely impacts how the visit will go! Our energy and state of mind is contagious. Prepare to join their reality, and never argue. We also must remember the time is about them, not us. Always introduce yourself, this sets them up for success. Wearing a smile and complementing them is a great way to start the visit. Don’t set expectations, just enjoy the moment.

Family members can make the visit pleasant by sharing your life, but don’t share your stress. Keep the conversation positive and simple. Less is more for those with dementia, especially when communicating. Don’t forget to use the power of touch. Since everyone needs to feel needed, try asking them to help you with something, but never ask them to remember. Dementia equals brain failure. In most cases, individuals can’t remember. Reminisce and remind them of joyful times from their past. Bring a photo album or something to snack on together.

Pick a time to stop by when your loved one is at their best. Usually, this is around the early hours of the day. Late afternoons and evenings tend to be harder for those living with dementia. Shorter visits are much easier on the person living with dementia. Tiredness and overstimulation can worsen sundowning.

When the time comes to end your visit, keep it short and sweet. Avoid using terms like, “I need to go home.” Leave them with positive feelings. “I need to leave for an appointment, but I will be back.” This statement provides comfort in knowing you will return. One of the bitter-sweet benefits of dementia is the fact that once you are gone, they won’t remember exactly what you said or possibly your visit. It is about what happens in the moment, and we want every moment to be positive.

We hope this information has given you some fresh tips and ideas for visiting someone living with dementia. Quality connections are essential for the person living with the disease, as well as yourself. If your visit still doesn’t go well, don’t beat yourself up. Every day is a new day. Be patient and you will figure out what works best. Giving your time to someone living with dementia is the best gift possible. 

Saint Charles, Missouri-based Arrow Senior Living manages a portfolio of communities that offer varying levels of care, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Each and every senior living community supports residents by focusing on dignity, respect, and quality of life. The programs and amenities offered are selected to provide only the highest standard of quality and comfort.

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