A woman takes a walk with an older loved one while visiting a family member with Alzheimer’s.

A diagnosis of dementia may also mean a diagnosis for loneliness. Though remaining social continues to be vitally important for people who have Alzheimer’s disease, many different factors lead to an increase in isolation, including:

  • The need to discontinue driving
  • Discomfort on the part of family and friends who are unsure what to say (or not to say)
  • Effects of the disease that make it difficult to communicate effectively
  • And much more

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a good time to figure out how to overcome any obstacles to visiting a family member with Alzheimer’s.

How Do I Ease My Discomfort Over Visiting Someone With Dementia?

First, know you are not alone in feeling awkward or uncomfortable. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may cause some unpredictable and difficult behaviors. The person you know is different now. You may wonder if they will even recognize you, and if not, should you even visit?

The truth is that whether or not the person knows who you are, the chance to spend some time with a friendly companion is priceless. When visiting a family member with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, plan to leave your personal feelings about the visit at the door when you arrive. Focus solely on how you can brighten up life for the person you love by putting on a nonjudgmental, caring, and positive attitude.

When you approach the individual for your visit, keep these to-dos and not-to-dos in mind:

Try to…

  • Ask questions that include an either-or choice: “I brought some treats. Would you like a cookie or a muffin?”
  • Speak slowly and calmly.
  • Take a seat if the person is seated so that you remain at eye level.
  • Relax your body posture.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Bring an activity to share: photos to look at together, some memorabilia to make a connection with the past, music to listen to, an easy craft or hobby, etc.
  • Introduce yourself in brief, to-the-point sentences: “Hi, Aunt Jill. I am Sally, your niece. It’s so good to see you.”
  • In the event that the person is experiencing an alternate reality, step into the role with them. For example, they might believe they are a school teacher getting ready for an upcoming class. Continue the conversation in line with their lead and direction.
  • Expect that the individual might not answer a question or react to a statement. Allow moments of silence, knowing your presence alone is beneficial.

Try not to…

  • Talk about them with other individuals in the room, as if they aren’t there.
  • Show any frustration, anger, fear, or other negative emotions. The person will pick up on your body language and tone of voice and respond accordingly.
  • Correct or argue with the person.
  • Take anything personally or allow it to hurt your feelings. People with dementia may yell, curse, or say things they don’t mean. This is an effect of the disease, and not coming from your loved one.
  • Talk to them as though they were a child.
  • Ask if they remember a person or event, which can trigger frustration and confusion.

How Else Can I Help Someone With Alzheimer’s Live a Better Quality of Life?

One of the best ways to provide support is by partnering with Abby Senior Care. Our dementia care specialists are fully trained and experienced in all aspects of dementia care. We serve as skilled companions to allow for regular social connections with someone with dementia. We can also provide you with a variety of resources, educational materials, and ideas to help make life the very best it can be for someone you love.

Give us a call any time at 303-699-8840 or contact us online to learn more about our specialized dementia care in Greenwood Village, Denver, Littleton, and the surrounding areas.