Tips for visiting someone with dementia
If you’re planning to visit someone with dementia, do you wonder, “What’s the point of visiting when they won’t even remember?” But just like us, people with dementia enjoy spending time with family and old friends.
Susan Bithrey is a caregiver who has seen how beneficial visitors are to her husband Reg, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. When Reg was still living at home, the couple’s sons visited whenever they could from Edmonton and Burlington and took part in activities such as skiing and fixing sports cars, some of Reg’s long-time hobbies.
When Reg moved to a long-term care home, his family still visited. One Christmas their grandson Landyn arrived with a Christmas tree and a plush soccer ball. After a game of catch, Landyn whispered to Susan, “Look at how well he’s catching, Nana!”
But when Reg’s condition deteriorated, Susan still tried to keep people coming. “He remembers, especially peoples’ faces. He has a sense of who you are and will say ‘oh’ and smile. Although he forgets soon afterwards, a moment of recognition passes like a ray of sun breaking through a cloudy sky.”
When Reg’s sons come, they can’t do the same sorts of activities they once enjoyed. So they take him out walking, hold his hand and spend time with him. And it helps. Sometimes, if they pass the school where Reg used to teach, he will say, “I remember. I was there.”
Here some other ways to make the most out of your visits:
- Visits between a half-hour and an hour are best, especially for those who tire easily.
- Give a manicure, massage hands and feet with cream, give a facial, shave or apply make-up. Such activities help the person with dementia feel cared for.
- Attend religious services together
- Help with phone calls, sending birthday cards and gifts.
- Create a small herb garden in window still pots.
- Go for a walk or a drive together.
- Look through family pictures. Be sure to say “tell me more” when they talk about a memory.
- Listen to music and sing along to old favourites.
- Read out loud.
- Bring a child or pet along to watch.
Do you have any favourite activities from visiting your friend or family member? Share them below.
For more ideas on visiting someone with dementia, visit our website.