Wednesday Workshop – What to Do When Visiting a Loved One with Alzheimer’s
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. Few family caregivers, who’s loved one’s have been placed in a facility, are able to spend as much time with the person with Alzheimer’s as they would like. The key is to make periodic visits and use your time wisely and effectively.
Here are tips to make the most out of your visit to a loved one with Alzheimer’s:
1. Make Eye Contact – Always approach them face-to-face and make eye contact. It is vital that they actually see you.
2. Be at Their Level – Move your head to be at the same level as their head. Kneel or sit down the reach their level. Do not stand or hover over them. It may be intimidating or scary.
3. Tell Them What You Are Going to Do Before You Do It – This is particularly important if you are going to touch them so they don’t think you are grabbing them.
4. Speak Slowly – Speak at one half your normal speed. Take a breath between each sentence. Give them a chance to catch up to your words.
5. Speak in Short Sentences – Speak in short, direct sentences with only one idea to each sentence. Usually they can only focus on one idea at a time.
6. Only Ask One Question at a Time – Let them answer it before you ask another question. You can ask who, what, where and when, but not why. Why is too complicated. They may fail and get frustrated.
7. Don’t Say “remember” – Many times they will not be able to remember, and you are just pointing out their shortcomings. That may be perceived as insulting and can cause anger and/or embarrassment.
8. Turn Negatives Into Positives – For example say, “Let’s go here” instead of “Don’t go there.”
9. Don’t Talk Down to Them – Don’t talk to them like a child or with a “baby voice”. Respect the fact that they are an adult, and treat them as such.
10. Validate Their Feelings – Don’t just try to convince them they shouldn’t be feeling a certain way. Say something like, “I see that you are angry (sad, upset, etc.) It lets them know they are not alone.
11. Talk About the Old Times More Than Recent Information – They are more likely to remember events from the distant past.
12. Do Something With the Person – Bring pictures, CD’s of music the person used to enjoy, or other objects maybe related to their favorite hobby or special interest to bring up pleasant memories.
13. What to Do When They Keep Repeating the Same Question – Answer the question patiently as though it’s the first time they asked it, because for them it is. They can’t remember that they already asked the question.
14. What to Do When They Keep Repeating the Same Story – Respond as though it’s the first time they told you the story. Again, they can’t remember they just told you the story.
15. Keep Visiting Even Though They May Not Remember Who You Are – Even though they may not recognize you they may really enjoy visiting with you, and that’s what matters.
16. Use Therapeutic Touch With the Person – People with Alzheimer’s may yearn to be touched. You should always get verbal or non-verbal permission before touching a person with dementia.
17. If a Person Starts Getting Agitated, Stop What You’re Doing and Change the Activity or Subject – You can stop an activity and start a new one. You can also quickly change the subject of discussion.
18. Do Not Correct the Person – This may embarrass them or lead to an argument.
19. Use Their Name Frequently When Talking With Them – Most people respond positively to hearing their name and people with Alzheimer’s are usually no different.
20. Don’t Visit if You Find They Already Have a Visitor – If a person already has one visitor adding another one may be too much stimulation for them.
21. Smile – People with Alzheimer’s won’t remember everything but they can certainly feel out a situation. Smile at them! Show them you care and don’t forget to say, “I love you.”
To speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!