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Managing a Visit with Someone Who Has Dementia

dosdon'tsDementia changes people in different ways, but there are a few things I found that will make a visit with an old friend easier to manage. My Dad was quieter, but my Mom is feistier.

Research has confirmed that dementia doesn’t magnify traits, but in general can create wholesale personality changes. Don’t be surprised to find the person you are visiting is different than you remember. I hope you will continue to visit, dementia is isolating to those suffering from this disease.

DO’s

  1. Begin with introductions. With a warm smile and relaxed posture, share a personal connection. Some suggestions that are helpful: “Hi FRIEND, It’s good to see you. You were one of the first people to welcome me into this community and it’s been a while since I’ve seen you”  or “Hi FRIEND. It’s a pleasure to see you today. I was thinking about all the fun we had when we lived in Germany together — that was over 40 years ago! Our children played together so well.”
  2. Bring pictures. It will help your friend understand your connection better if you can share pictures of you together.
  3. Speak slowly, simply and pause to allow them to talk. Some individuals will feed off of your energy so focus on being relaxed and calm. Eye contact and direct interest is important.

DON’TS

  1. Ask what they are up to or any short-term memory questions.  Short-term memory is the first to go and can set off emotions from frustration to anger and sadness if they are unable to answer the question.
  2. Expect them to “remember”. Be prepared to carry on a one-sided conversation.
  3. Correct jumbled memories. Allow your friend to share. Feel free to share how you remembered something, but don’t try to correct or debate facts.
  4. Show up with an agenda of what you are going to accomplish. Most people are lonely and want to enjoy the company and some conversation. Trying to get agreement or push on a topic can often lead to stress in the person with dementia.

The last don’t has been a new item for me. With my father gone, the normal routine we had has also left and now my Mom prefers to spend our time together reviewing her calendar or burial plans. We will discuss the day of the week over and over for a half hour, move onto the burial date and then go right back into the day of the week. I arrive knowing there is no agenda, and can easily sit with her with a smile on my face and calmly answer the same questions over and over until she feels more comfortable. This too will pass. Relaxed. 

Here is a post that made me consider this topic. I’m frustrated that more people don’t use the umbrella term of “dementia” but it includes some good information in a longer format that you may find useful.

Tips for Visiting a Friend with Alzheimer’s Huff Post, October 7,
 Originally shared by MomandDadCare

8 comments on “Managing a Visit with Someone Who Has Dementia

  1. Reblogged this on Going Gentle Into That Good Night and commented:
    Kay Bransford has some excellent “do’s” and “don’ts” for visitors – especially those who can’t or don’t visit often – on how to successfully manage your visits to a friend or family member suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease. This list is a list of love, care, and concern.

  2. Yes, dealing with the “what day is it” conversation for a half an hour on the occasional visit is a piece of cake. Living with it all day every day is a whole ‘nother story!

    • I can’t imagine. I’ve tried to put things in place so she knows but she admits she rather talk. Have you tried Pete the repeat parrot? My mom like it but it drive my dad crazy so they threw it out.

      Maybe trying it again

  3. […] Managing a Visit with Someone Who Has Dementia (dealingwithdementia.wordpress.com) […]

  4. […] these questions — not their electronic medical records that were a keytouch away. I created a list of Do’s and Don’ts to better manage the appointments with my parents because having the doctor ask me everything was […]

  5. […] Manage a Visit with Someone Who Has Dementia I provided a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to help those just getting exposed to someone with moderate dementia. Some of these take time. Trying to connect and being present is more important than executing these perfectly.  […]

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