The holidays are a wonderful time of year. They bring favorite holiday treats, feelings of joy, beautiful decorations, and visits from family and friends. While we may look forward to greeting holiday guests, receiving visitors can be confusing and difficult for those with dementia. It can also be hard for guests to spend time with an older adult who has dementia. Preparing both the older adult and their guests can make holiday visits more enjoyable.
Preparing the Older Adult
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that caregivers begin preparing dementia patients for a visitor about a week in advance. Show them pictures of the visitor and talk about them coming to visit. Call the person by name. Tell familiar stories about the person. Talk to the person daily about the visitor. If possible, arrange a phone conversation between the two.
Even when visitors arrive, try to keep to your loved one’s daily routine. Give them time to rest and avoid fatigue.
Preparing visitors to see someone with dementia is important for making the visit go as smoothly as possible. It can be difficult for a person who doesn’t see the older adult often to accept the changes that have occurred since their last visit. They may not know what to expect or how to interact with the person. Here are some tips for preparing visitors:
- Discuss communication: As a family caregiver, you know the best ways to communicate with your aging family member. Talk to visitors about what works best. Remind them to approach the senior from the front where they can be seen. They should introduce themselves regardless of their relationship with the person—even if they’ve known each other for years. Sentences should be short and clear.
- Apprise them of the situation: Tell the visitor what to expect. Let them know how the disease has progressed since the last time they visited. Giving them a snapshot of your day as a caregiver can give them a better idea of the person’s abilities.
- Ask the visitor to bring pictures: Pictures can help trigger memories and give the two something to talk about. Remind the visitor that visits are important: Sometimes people stop visiting family members with dementia because they figure the person won’t remember anyway. While the older adult may not remember the visit or specifics of the visit, the positive emotions a visit brings make a difference in the life of someone with dementia.
As you prepare for holiday guests, remember that caregivers deserve a break during the holidays, too. If the visitor is comfortable spending time alone with the senior, take some time for yourself. Even just going to another room to read a book or watch television by yourself can provide a much-deserved break.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering caregivers in Mt. Laurel, NJ, please contact the caring staff at TLC Home Care Services today. Call (856) 234-8700 for more information.
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