Visiting a Loved One with Dementia

Kemper House Worthington

It’s not unusual to feel unsure about seeing someone in a memory care home. You may not know what to talk about or how to approach your loved one, especially if you don’t want to upset them. Here are some tips that will help you make the most out of each visit.

Plan Your Visit

Schedule your trip during the time of day when your loved one is most at ease. That will give you the best chance of enjoying quality time together. Bringing games, activities, projects and items of interest is often a good way to interact with someone who has dementia. 

You and another person can help a loved one adjust to unfamiliar surroundings but keep it to just the two of you. Lots of people can be overstimulating and cause confusion or agitation.

Go at Their Pace

Allow your loved one to steer the conversation. Don’t expect them to adapt to your expectations, as that will cause frustration for both parties. It’s important to comfort people with dementia so they don’t feel isolated. Here are some tips to support good interactions:

  • Find a quiet space to have a conversation.
  • Speak slowly and allow your loved one plenty of time to respond.
  • Ask open-ended questions that don’t have a wrong answer.
  • Avoid phrases like “Do you remember…”
  • Talk about current topics and activities, not just memories.
  • Don’t correct them or argue if they misspeak.
  • Use observations about objects or surroundings to focus on the present.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence.

Nonverbal Communication

It’s a good idea to get your loved one’s attention before you speak to avoid repetition and confusion. Make eye contact on their level, so you’re not physically speaking down to them. Start your visit by looking them in the eyes and smiling to set a positive tone for the rest of your time together.

A comforting touch on the arm or pat on the back can also make a huge difference. Physical touch is an effective way of conveying emotion and connecting with a loved one who has dementia. And holding their hand can help calm them during an outburst.

Contact the staff at Kemper House Worthington for more information about visiting your loved one in a memory care home.