Feeling lonely, isolated and lacking in self-confidence or assurance can be common experiences for those living with dementia. Although it can be a challenge to communicate and share meaningful time together as the disease progresses, relationships and being socially included can significantly contribute to their quality of life.
Not only is thoughtful interaction often able to slow the progression of dementia symptoms, it can also relay feelings of compassion and caring to your loved one and extend emotional benefits to family members and friends as well.
Creating a successful visit to a loved one living with dementia
It’s more likely to have an enjoyable visit with your loved one if you prepare ahead of time. These tips can help:
- Plan ahead: Unless you’re the primary caregiver or are familiar with the preferences of the individual living with dementia, it’s always better to plan ahead. Ask a family member or memory care community caregiver what days and times might be best for a visit.
- Find enjoyable activities: Familiarize yourself with how the person liked spending time. Think about past sports, hobbies or other passions. Look for activities in these areas and tailor them to meet the preferences of your loved one.
- Bring everything you need: For example, if you plan on making a memory book together, bring a scrapbook or small box, craft supplies, photos and objects that resemble a favorite time or place.
- Have a backup plan: Those living with dementia are left trying to make sense of their world. It can be confusing and frustrating, causing changes in mood. Be flexible and have another option prepared. An activity they enjoyed last month may no longer be a favorite.
- Try quiet time: If your loved one isn’t interested in an activity, try reading from a favorite book or connecting through touch. Simply sitting quietly and holding hands or providing a foot massage with warm lotions can convey genuine caring.
- Be a good and respectful listener: When communicating, be patient and use simple, clear language. Try to avoid asking questions your loved one can’t answer and don’t argue if their memory of an event is different from yours. It is very true to them.
- Monitor their responses: Pay attention to how a loved one living with dementia reacts to different activities, surroundings or people. Even when they cannot verbally communicate, they may use gestures and facial expressions to let you know how they feel.
- Try again another day: Some days, your loved one may not be able to participate in activities or even enjoy having visitors. If you sense agitation or frustration, it’s probably best to try the visit again another day.
Download our complimentary Memory Care Guide to learn more.
Activities to share with someone living with dementia
The most successful visits result from meeting loved ones wherever they are at that moment and what you think they would enjoy. The following are a few ideas to consider:
- Music and memory: Music can evoke long-ago memories and positive emotions. If you don’t know their favorites, ask – and consider creating a playlist of songs from their past.
- Art and creativity: Working together on an art project often provides a means of communication without the need for words. Consider simple tasks such as painting or crafting.
- Reminiscence therapy: Bringing in an old family photo album and describing the pictures can often spark a recollection that once seemed lost. Your loved one still benefits from the stories even if not able to contribute names, dates or places.
- Time outdoors: Depending on the time of year and weather, taking a walk, sitting in the sunshine or working together in a garden can offer significant sensory and emotional benefits.
- Simple puzzles and board games: Search for games your loved one might still enjoy playing with your help. Large puzzles or sorting objects by texture can also be calming and lessen anxiety.
- Watching movies or television programs: Arrange to bring in a particular genre of movie or type of television program your loved one enjoyed. Make it a special occasion with snacks and drinks.
Remember, the type of activity isn’t as important as the connection made during the visit. Family and friends often worry they will do something wrong during visits with loved ones living with dementia but the message that they are still an important part of your life is what matters.
The Charleston Senior Living Community
Locally owned and operated, we offer personalized care by our dedicated team members. Setting a new standard in Assisted Living and Memory Care, we don’t define our residents by their limitations or illness but instead believe in focusing on the positive and the possibility.
The Charleston Senior Community includes private apartments for assisted living residents and for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Your loved ones will benefit from our attention to detail, routine health assessments, delicious dining and daily activity programs as we support everyone to live their best life.
Consider a few of our amenities:
- Chef-led dining program
- Community movie theater
- Live entertainment
- Outdoor patio
- Social lounges
If you or your family is thinking about Assisted living or Memory care, we hope you will consider The Charleston Senior Community. We are a trusted resource and are here to answer any questions, contact us today.
We also invite you to download our complimentary Memory Care Guide to learn more about this type of senior living.