Be Understanding and Patient
Dementia can make spending time with your loved one different than it used to be, but when you approach them with understanding and patience, you can still enjoy your time together.
Start your visit off right by making sure your environment is conducive to conversation. For instance, distractions like TV and radio can make it harder to focus for the person living with dementia, so turning them off or removing them may help your loved one get enjoyment out of time spent together.
While setting the right environment is always a good start, sometimes the dementia can still interfere. If your loved one does get confused during the conversation, or keeps repeating things, it’s understandable that you may feel frustrated or weary. Again, try to be patient. Keep in mind their behavior isn’t intentional, and they are likely just as frustrated as you are. Always speak kindly and clearly, with respect and eye contact. And when you can incorporate humor and positivity with patience into your conversation, do it. This time is meant to be joyful and fun.
Those who have dementia may have a harder time recalling recent memories than longer term ones, so bringing up fond memories of the past is a good idea. There are plenty of ways to do this. Try bringing in a box of meaningful items from their past, and go through each one of them while discussing their significance together. You’re bound to get some interesting stories.
Of course, bringing in a photo album is a great way to jog a loved one’s memory, and it’s especially fun to go through albums where there are pictures of the two of you. If you were part of the story, help them remember it by telling it all over again. Another fun thing to do is listen to older music from their era. Find music they loved back in the day, and enjoy it together. It is also possible to reawaken skills and hobbies by bringing objects you can look at or activities you can work on together. Be creative and think about what might help them remember. There’s a lot you can do to spark meaningful memories and ignite a great conversation.
Hit the Books
Another delightful way to spend your time together is to read aloud. Whether a book that they’ve enjoyed in the past or your favorite novel, reading is a wonderful way to entertain and keep the mind active. Getting them to join in and read a few pages and interact is encouraged.
If there isn’t a book that they love or immediately comes to mind for you, do some research, and check some books out at the library before your visit. Not only does reading help brain health, it’s also incredibly soothing to listen to.
Playing a familiar game is one activity that may be helpful. Getting your loved one to remember rules and get into the muscle memory of a game can be an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s especially fun when they’re the competitive type.
Make sure to choose a game that’s simple, doesn’t require too many steps or a skill they no longer have, and is something your loved one is already familiar with. Bingo, checkers, dominoes and croquet are all great examples of simple games that people of all ages can enjoy playing together.
Break out the old cookbooks. Today is your day to bring back sounds, smells and tastes. Cooking together is an amazing way to bond. Reading through cookbooks might rouse memories of their childhood or a special meal they had with a friend or spouse.
We highly recommend that you pick something simple but delicious. Here’s a helpful guide to cooking with your loved one. Have fun whippin’ up some food, and then, bon appetit!
After cooking, burn off some of those calories by getting out in nature together. Going on a walk is always a sensory experience and could potentially spark great conversation, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a quiet, relaxing stroll outdoors. Look and listen for birds, smell the flowers and bring up their favorite outdoor activities from when they were kids. And getting some much-needed Vitamin D is never a bad thing, either.
More from Brookdale
If you want to learn more about how to support those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, we can be a resource. We’ll help your loved one receive the attention, respect and love they deserve. Take a look at our Alzheimer's and Dementia Care articles.
Have questions about our senior living options? We’re always happy to talk! Reach out to a Brookdale representative today.
The above content is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.
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