Visiting and looking after loved ones with dementia can be a difficult and upsetting experience. They may not remember who you are and their personality might have completely changed as their brain degenerates. But it’s still important for both of you to keep up those visits and try as much as you can to build and maintain a meaningful connection with them.
Here are some helpful tips for achieving this.
Understand their abilities
As their condition worsens, what they can do and how much they understand will change. It’s important that you are aware of this and adapt your visits to their ability level. If your loved one has a professional carer, then they can advise you on this as well. Trying to get them to do something that is too difficult for them can make them frustrated.
Are they mobile enough to go for a walk with you or are your visits better confined to their home? Are they able to have a conversation with you or would they rather just listen to you talk? Or maybe silence is a better option, relying on non-verbal communication like touch instead.
Share activities that they enjoy
Whether or not they remember their love for a hobby or activity, you can do those things together. Taking part in these activities could bring back memories or make them feel happy without them really knowing why. You could watch their favorite movie together, for example, or go for a walk if that’s what they liked to do. If they always loved animals, you could bring your pet along with you on your visits.
Use all their senses
Different senses can trigger different memories and emotions, so think about how you can stimulate the different senses in positive ways. If you loved going to the movies together, then the smell of fresh popcorn could bring that memory back to them. Playing their favorite song or piece of music could make them feel happy and even bring back memories of listening to that music. Tasting different foods can also raise the spirits or help them to recall memories of trips they took to different places.
Make the most of their good moments
Dementia patients will have some moments that are more lucid than others. Although you should be there for both, make sure to really make the most of those more lucid moments. Especially enjoy and cherish the conversations you have when they are better able to recall past memories and ask you questions about your life.
Overall, try not to get frustrated with your loved one or the situation you’re in with them. Be patient and remember that they’re still the same person. If you need additional care for your loved one, give us a call.