A diagnosis of dementia may also mean a diagnosis for loneliness. Though socialization remains very important for people with Alzheimer’s disease, a variety of factors lead to an increase in isolation, such as:
- Symptoms of the disease that make it challenging to communicate effectively
- The need to discontinue driving
- Discomfort on the part of friends and family who are unsure what to say (or not to say)
- And more
September is World Alzheimer’s Month, the perfect time to figure out how to overcome any obstacles to visiting someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
How Can I Ease My Discomfort Over Visiting Someone With Alzheimer’s?
First, know you’re not alone in feeling awkward or uncomfortable. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may cause some unpredictable and challenging behaviors. The person you know has changed. You may wonder if they will even recognize who you are, and if not, should you even visit?
The truth is that even if the individual is confused about who you are, the chance to spend time with a friendly companion is priceless. Plan to leave your personal feelings at the door when visiting someone with Alzheimer’s. Concentrate entirely on how you can help the person you love by putting on a positive, nonjudgmental, and caring attitude.
When you approach the person for your visit, keep these to-dos and not-to-dos in mind:
- Make eye contact.
- Use a calm, slow manner of speaking.
- Ask questions that include an either-or choice: “I brought some treats. Do you want a cookie or a muffin?”
- Step into any alternate realities the person is experiencing with them. For example, they may believe they are a teacher getting ready for an upcoming class. Continue the conversation based on their lead and direction.
- Introduce yourself in brief, to-the-point sentences: “Hi, Aunt Jill. I’m Sally, your niece. It’s so good to see you.”
- Expect that the person may not answer a question or react to a statement. Allow moments of silence, knowing just being together is beneficial.
- Bring an activity to share: pictures to look at together, some memorabilia to make a connection with the past, music to listen to, an easy craft or hobby, etc.
- Sit down if the person is seated to make sure you remain at eye level.
- Relax your body posture.
Try not to…
- Take anything personally or allow it to hurt your feelings. People with Alzheimer’s may say things they don’t mean, yell, or curse. This is an effect of the disease, and not coming from the person.
- Speak to them as though they were a child.
- Talk about them with other individuals in the room, as if they aren’t there.
- Ask if they remember an individual or event, which might trigger confusion or frustration.
- Argue with or correct your loved one.
- Show any negative emotions, like anger, fear, or frustration. The person will recognize your body language and tone of voice and respond accordingly.
How Can I Help Someone With Alzheimer’s Have a Better Quality of Life?
One of the most effective ways to provide support is by partnering with Grace Home Care. Our dementia care professionals are fully trained and experienced in all aspects of Alzheimer’s care. We serve as skilled companions to ensure regular social connections for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia. We can also offer a number of resources, educational materials, and tips to help make life the best it can be for someone you love.