The thought of visiting a friend or loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of progressive memory loss can create a sense of unease and anxiety. Understandably, anyone can feel apprehensive about a situation or circumstance that is unknown or unfamiliar to them.
It can be especially difficult to witness the changes caused by memory loss firsthand and to accept the differences in the person you have known and loved. The concerns of friends and family members are frequently voiced in comments such as, “What if he doesn’t know who I am?”; “What should I say?”; “How should I act?”; or “I don’t want to see her like this.”
Visits Are Important to Persons with Memory Loss
Kathy Wiederhold, Executive Director at Clarity Pointe™ Louisville, a memory care assisted living community in Louisville, KY, says, “Because of these common, perfectly human reactions, it is easy to understand how someone who is not familiar with memory loss could be nervous and somewhat fearful about visiting.
“However, it is important to keep things in perspective and to see the larger picture – that is, the well-being of the person with memory loss.
“Experts in memory care, such as the Mayo Clinic and the Alzheimer’s Association, tell us that various forms of personal interaction and social engagement, such as visits, are very important for individuals with memory loss. They say that positive connections with others have been shown to enhance the person’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being by reducing their anxiety and agitation while also improving their mood.
“Some memory loss experts even say that a visit from friends and family may be the very best gift you can give to the person with memory loss and to their primary caregiver.”
The Power of a Positive Attitude
Experts agree that your attitude, including body language, is extremely important when visiting with a loved one or friend with memory loss.
People with memory loss are said to be highly intuitive and are often able to “read” your mood. If you are feeling anxious, stressed out or rushed, they may become agitated as a result. And like all of us, individuals with progressive memory loss can have their good days and bad days.
Bringing a positive attitude and a calm demeanor can result in a pleasant visit for both of you.
Ways to Make Your Visit a Healthy and Successful One
Experts also provide helpful tips that can make your visit more pleasant, while also benefitting the person with memory loss. The Alzheimer’s Association’s “Caregiver” newsletter article, “Positive Attitude: The Key to Successful Visiting and Holiday Gift Giving,” provides numerous recommendations you can utilize for a satisfying visit. These include:
- Introduce yourself to the person with memory loss and call them by name before every verbal interaction, e.g., “Ann, it is so nice to see you!”
- Do not ask the person if they remember youand don’t ask numerous questions. You might be reminding the person of their deficits.
- Maintain eye contact throughout the conversation to show you are listening, and be sure to approach the person from the front and at their level.
- Demonstrate your love and care. Smile and use touch to let them know you care about them.
- Talk to the person as an adult. Speak in brief, easy-to-understand sentences. Never “talk down” or use baby-talk with them.
- Mention their former interests and hobbies. This can be used to trigger a positive response. For example, take a golf magazine for the former golfer or a gardening magazine for the woman who loved her garden.
- You can also bring items from the past with you. Photo albums are great for reminiscing. Because their long-term memory is often still intact, photos from the past can spark conversation, elicit fond memories and make for a wonderful visit.
- Finally, keep your visit short and 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,” instead.
“Remember,” Kathy adds, “feeling some anxiety is perfectly normal. By following these simple tips from memory care experts, you can overcome your fear of visiting and enjoy a meaningful and productive visit. You will also have the satisfaction of doing something special for your friend or loved one who will benefit from the experience. Your time will be appreciated and well spent.”
Supporting At-Home Caregivers with Programs, Information and Support
In addition to providing exceptional memory care and an enriching lifestyle, our beautiful new memory care community offers many educational and support programs to assist families in coping with their caregiving responsibilities.
We schedule free monthly programs for caregivers and families that provide you with useful information, guidance and memory care support. We invite you to check our monthly events calendar and read our frequent articles and tips on important memory care topics.
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 memory care 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 Louisville 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 memory 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 memory care in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our memory care residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.