You’ve already gone through the tough time of helping a loved one decide that they are going to be staying in a new place that will be caring for their needs. You’ve helped them move in, and you’ve helped them get settled. As they get more acquainted with their new home, now you get the chance to visit them in their new space. This can be an important part of the process for helping a loved one feel good about their decision to be in a new space that is away from family by being able to see that they can still be a part of the family.
But with this visiting comes some responsibility on your part to help make the process easier. In this blog, we will talk about considerations as you come to visit your loved one in our community.
Before you visit
Before you come to visit your loved one, take some time to think out some of the logistics of your visit to ensure that you are setting up yourself and your loved one for a positive experience.
First, think about how many people from your family might be joining you. It is usually best to have a smaller group for visits in order to not overwhelm your loved one. Loud noises and numerous people coming can be frustrating and cause confusion.
Second, think about when you will be visiting your loved one. Do they have a particular time of day that they are usually in a better mood? Are you coming on a day when you are going to be rushed? Decreasing the likelihood of stressors by showing up at better times of day for both you and your loved one can help set the tone for a positive interaction.
During your visit
Once you come to visit, it’s good to remember some of the behaviors we have outlined in other blogs about caregiving and being respectful of those with dementia. Most of these are universal when interacting with those suffering from cognitive decline but are also important in order to make sure your visit has the effects that you intend.
First, it’s always a good idea to introduce yourself when you enter their room giving your name and even your relation to them. While this may seem unnecessary, it can help disarm confusion and help your loved one start conversations knowing who you are, even if they are having a tough day.
Second, what you say and how you say it is extremely important in maintaining a positive interaction. Keeping your tone and body language positive and speaking in a softer voice will help keep the tone for the conversation and space calm and peaceful. Also, give your loved one time to respond to you as it may take them a moment to respond (another reason to not show up when you might be in a rush to get somewhere else). Letting them lead the conversation is also a positive way to keep them feeling in control.
Third, it’s always a good idea to bring something for you to do together. Activities like looking through a book or something with meaning from their past can help spark conversation and increase the opportunity for bonding in this new space.
But with this visiting comes some responsibility on your part to help make the process easier
What not to do
One of the most important things to remember is that it is not necessary to correct them when they are wrong. This can quickly lead to frustration for both you and your loved one and can lead to a negative interaction. It’s easy to want to correct someone when they say something incorrect, but for those with dementia, being corrected can be embarrassing or, in the worst case, can lead to anger. Learning to let go of little mistakes can help keep your visit on the right track and help you and your loved one get what you need out of the visit.
Some other simple things to not do include not standing over someone (instead keeping at eye level), don’t talk in a disrespectful tone, and don’t talk about them as if they are not there. Each of these can help with continuing the respect and dignity for your loved one in this difficult time.
Visitation can be a stressful time for everyone involved, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. Creating a positive environment in which beautiful memories can be created will help make these visits a wonderful experience. Helping loved ones feel like they are still connected, no matter the distance, or the home in which they live. At Kemper House Worthington, we want to give you the best chance to succeed and give your loved one a home they can have their family visit.