If you are going to visit someone with dementia, it can be a daunting task. The thought of seeing someone you have known for a potentially long time, now with a cognitive impairment, can scare a lot of people off. So that you don’t miss out on visiting your loved one, we’ve compiled our best advice for visiting someone with dementia below to make the experience go smoother:
Manage your expectations. Knowing beforehand what stage their dementia is at, and what symptoms to expect, will help you go in to the experience in right mindset. This way you are less likely to be upset by the new condition of someone you previously knew with total wellness.
Saying hello. Don’t be patronising, or speak to your loved one like a child, but do go easy on them. When you first come to visit, introduce yourself. Even if it is someone who has known you for your whole life, they may need a little help here. Tell them your name, and how you know each other.
Speak clearly. Try to use simple sentences, speaking clearly and in plain english. Again, avoid sounding patronising or speaking down to them, but try to be as clear as possible. For example, instead of “Would you like some lunch, what do you feel like eating?”, try “Let’s have lunch. Here is a sandwich for you to eat”.
Photographs are worth a thousand words. Bringing photos along to your visit can be very beneficial to your loved one with dementia, as well as for you to recall the memories you shared together.
Stay cool. Sometimes, communicating with someone who has dementia can be frustrating. They may argue with you, and get frustrated when they don’t understand you. Remember that arguing back with them will neither benefit you or them. Keep calm and stay cool, and speak plainly and gently with them.
Just visit. A lot of people remain fearful of visiting, or don’t want to return after going once. Remember that these visits are not just good for your loved one, but good for you. Don’t risk the regret of missing out on any more precious moments together. If you are able to, visit.