“Memory care experts often say that taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia is very much a family affair,” says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola.
“However, family members and friends are sometimes hesitant to visit and interact with a loved one with memory loss largely because they don’t know what to expect. We often hear comments such as, ‘Will he even know me?’; ‘I don’t know what to say?’; and ‘How will he react?’
“While it is understandable that some friends and family members might feel anxious about making an initial visit, memory care therapists emphasize that social visits are very important to the emotional health and well-being of the person with Alzheimer’s. Avoiding the person simply because of their disorder is not beneficial for anyone.
“One the contrary, visits can be healthy and successful for both parties with some basic knowledge of how Alzheimer’s effects the individual’s physical and mental state. Therefore, it is always a good idea to do some research on memory loss to help you prepare.”
The Benefits of Visits as a Memory Care Therapy
Leaders in memory care such as the Alzheimer’s Association® and The Mayo Clinic advise that visits from friends and family are one of several forms of positive “social engagement” that are considered highly beneficial to the person’s dignity, sense of belonging, social connectedness and emotional status.
They say that visits and other types of positive social interactions have been shown to reduce the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as stress, anxiety, agitation and apathy. This creates a more comforting environment for the individual that promotes an improved quality of life.
Visits also benefit the friends and family members who are doing the visiting by giving them a feeling of supportiveness for the person they have known for many years. By contrast, avoiding the person with memory loss can lead to lingering feelings of guilt.
Memory Care Tips to Make Your Visit a Successful One
To help you feel more confident and self-assured about visiting a friend or relative with memory loss, memory care specialists offer some useful pointers. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association® article, “Positive Attitude: The Key to Successful Visiting and Holiday Gift Giving,” on page 8 of their 2008 newsletter, provides the following helpful tips that can make your visit a comfortable and successful one.
- Introduce yourself and call the person by name before every verbal interaction with them, e.g., “Hello, Jim, it’s your neighbor, Dan. It is so nice to see you!”
- Do not ask the person if they remember you. By saying this, you are constantly reminding the person of their deficits.
- Make sure you approach the individual from the front and at their level.
- Maintain eye contact throughout the conversation to show you are listening.
- Talk to the person as an adult. Speak in brief, easy to understand sentences. Don’t “talk down” or use “baby talk” with them.
- Demonstrate your love and caring. You can use touch to let them know you care.
- Reduce the stimulation around you. For example, turn off the TV, radio and cell phone.
- Bring up their former interests and hobbies. This can trigger a positive response, take them back in time and engage their memories and senses. For example, take a golf magazine for the former golfer or a gardening magazine for the woman who loved her garden.
- Bring items from the past with you. Photo albums are great for reminiscing. While recent memories may have faded for the individual, past memories are often vivid and clear. Photos from the past can spark conversation, elicit fond memories and make for a wonderful visit.
- Don’t ask numerous questions. It is better to make simple statements. For example, instead of saying, “Are you enjoying the beautiful summer weather?” Say, “It’s been so beautiful this summer.”
- Keep your visit short. If you visit for short intervals, you are more likely to have a successful interaction
- Never say “goodbye” at the end of a visit. It is better not to draw attention to the fact that you are leaving. Try saying, “I love you!”
Says Lonette, “As you prepare for your visit, simply keep in mind that this is the same person you have always known and loved. Through no fault of their own, they are now dealing with a progressive illness that they have no control over. You are doing them a valuable kindness by spending some time with them. and both of you will feel better as a result.”
Memory Care Committed to an Enriching Lifestyle, Personalized Care and Living Well
AtClarity Pointe™ Pensacola, we recognize the continuing importance of friends and family members in the lives of persons with memory loss. Here, you are always welcome and are encouraged to remain a part of your loved one’s life.
In addition to encouraging visitors, we utilize many different forms of proven social engagement therapies including those that involve humor, music, art, reminiscence, exercise, pets, aromas and more. Here, our person-centered programming is more than a calendar of activities – it encompasses meaningful activity and hope.
Using the Heartfelt CONNECTIONS™ memory care philosophy, our memory care-trained team uses specific tools that enable us to learn each resident’s life story to customize therapies and form strong bonds and relationships. Our programming celebrates yesterday’s accomplishments, recognizes today’s milestones and focuses on the dignity, comfort and laughter our residents will enjoy tomorrow.”
Information, Guidance and Support for At-Home Caregivers
At Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, we recognize the many challenges at-home memory care caregivers face, and we’re always here to help. In addition to providing exceptional memory care for loved ones with memory loss, we also offer a variety of resources for families to help them meet the challenges of caring for a loved one with memory loss while continuing to have meaningful interactions and relationships.
You can also view Clarity Pointe’s valuable memory care articles and tips for at-home caregivers that address a variety of helpful topics that you can put to use today.
Clarity Pointe™ … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe™’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.