Visiting a Loved One in the Latter Stages of Alzheimer’s

If your loved one is in the later stages of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, it can be difficult to know how to interact with them during a visit. He or she may not remember who you are, or may not be able to communicate with you as they did in the past. However, these visits are incredibly important to your loved one, even if the way you interact has changed. It’s still possible to have meaningful, joyful moments together. Here are a few tips on how to make your visit a positive one.

Rely on body language.

People with Alzheimer’s may not always understand your words, but they are incredibly sensitive to your facial expressions, tone of voice and non-verbal communications. So go ahead and tell them stories about their grandchildren, your work or how their favorite sports team is doing. While you’re doing that, smile at them and make eye contact. Lean in and show your interest in them and their reactions. Sit next to them and hold their hand. You’ll find that your happiness may quickly be mirrored by your loved one.

Use touch to show you care.

Something we all need, from tiny babies to those in old age, is the warmth and comfort of human touch. As dementia progresses, your loved one may not be able to express his or her needs or understand what’s going on around them. But one thing they certainly can understand is touch. Even simply sitting next to your loved one and holding her hand can be incredibly meaningful – even if she doesn’t always demonstrate how much it means to her. During your visits, take time to give your loved one gentle touches, like a hug, a hand on their knee or gently brushing their hair.

Go outside.

Memory care communities have courtyards and other secure, outdoor areas where residents and their families can get some fresh air, watch nature and enjoy a little sunshine. The physical benefits of being outside – vitamin D, a boost in serotonin and the stimulation of the senses – can be experienced even by people in very advanced dementia. It also provides opportunities for you to interact with your loved one in different ways, such as touching flowers or discussing the different birds that come to the feeders.

Play some favorite music.

Research has shown that music has the ability to stimulate and unlock different parts of the brain, which can lead to amazing results. There are stories of people in advanced dementia who are suddenly able to sing along to their favorite songs, dance or clap to the beat and who have even been able to carry on some conversation when a favorite song has been played. Consider creating a playlist of favorite songs from his or her youth, or play the song they danced to at their wedding.

Bring a copy of their favorite show or movie.

What TV shows did your loved one watch as a child (or as an adult)? Was there a movie that he or she quoted endlessly? Bring a copy of it with you and watch it together. It’s an enjoyable way to spend some time, and even if your loved one doesn’t show much response, the familiarity of it may still be a comfort to them.

Don’t take it personally.

It’s important to understand that your loved one with advanced dementia may not react much, if at all, to you being with them. Know that it’s not their fault – it’s the disease, not the person themselves. Don’t expect that he or she will remember you or even respond to your presence. Understand that just you being there is an act of unconditional love, and that your presence is a present that you can give freely and gratefully.

As a loving family member, you naturally want the best care for your loved one. The compassionate assisted living caregivers at Avalon Memory Care want you to know that while your loved one is living with us, he or she will receive nothing less than respectful, loving care within our comfortable, safe, and fully-staffed homes. We invite you to take your time while visiting your loved one here, and please let us know if you have any questions about your loved one’s memory care.

Avalon Memory Care is an award-winning program that offers compassionate, loving bedside care in Dallas, Houston, and Arlington for individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive memory loss diseases. We always welcome families to visit their loved ones at our home-like locations throughout the region. You can get in touch at (972) 713-1383.

By |2019-05-24T10:18:16-05:00May 24th, 2019|Categories: Memory Care|0 Comments