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VISITING SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA

 

-Educate yourself about dementia using the “” on this site.  It is important to know the stage of dementia the person is experiencing so you can be prepared.

 

-Ask primary caregivers regarding the best time to visit. Plan your visit during the hours that best fit into their regular routine.

 

-If the person you are visiting is hospitalized and/or in a care facility, abide by the visiting hours.

 

-When you greet the person, it is helpful to say your name.  (“Hi Dad.  It’s Patty.)  This alleviates the stress of the person trying to remember who you are.  Very often they will parrot your name back (“Hi Patty.”)

 

-Always approach them from the front.  Do not tap them on the shoulder or startle them.

 

-Sit at the same level, make eye contact, and touch their hand if appropriate.

 

-Speak simply, one comment at a time.  Allow time for their responses.

 

-Take along a Christian magazine, book, music, or movie that you can enjoy together.

 

-There are many environmental DVDs–some with Christian music and scriptures.  These videos of mountains, streams, animals, etc., would be a blessing to someone who is housebound.

 

-Take along an audio recording of a service from their church and listen to it together.

 

-Play a simple game, if they are still capable of doing so.

 

-Take along photographs to share.

 

-Reminisce about the past–people, places, and experiences you have shared.

 

-Take along a special food treat that the person enjoys.  Check first with the caregiver or care facility to be sure it is okay for them to have it.

 

-Ask about the person’s hobbies, interests, and life.

 

-Keep trips and activities simple.  Give instructions, questions, or explanations regarding these simple and speak slowly. For example:  “It is such a nice day.  Would you like to go outside?”

 

-If you take the person on an outing, do not leave them alone in a store, restaurant, or car.  Some tend to wander.

 

-Do not take the person’s behaviors personally.  It is the disease that is acting and speaking, not your friend or loved one.

 

-Ignore statements that are incorrect.   Do not argue or try to convince a person differently, as they may be unable to think logically.

 

-Be patient when a person is trying to find the right word. Fill in missing words only if he/she encourages you to do so.

 

-Do not scold the person or get angry.  It is the disease, not the person, that is the problem.

 

-In later stages of dementia, if a person asks about someone who has already passed away, do not tell them that the person is dead.  Because they cannot remember, the grief is fresh each time you tell them.  Simply say:  “Aunt Sally couldn’t come today”–or a similar statement–then change the subject.

 

-Sometimes, a person just wants someone to be with them.  You don’t have to make conversation.  Just hold their hand and let them know you are there.

 

-Your visit does not have to be lengthy, especially in late stage dementia, as the person may tire easily.

 

-To conclude your visit:

-Always share an encouraging word from the Bible.  Use a familiar Bible version–most     often this will be the King James Version.

-Pray with them.

-Tell them you will visit again soon.