If your grandparent, parent, or other loved one was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and has moved into a nursing home, you may not be sure what to expect. You would like to visit them and show you care, but you may also be nervous since they may no longer remember you or seem like themselves. Knowing what to expect and preparing ahead of time will make this difficult situation easier for both you and your loved one. Here are four tips for visiting your loved one in Alzheimer's care.
Plan Your Visit for the Best Time of Day
Many Alzheimer's patients have certain times of day where they are more alert and calm, and other times of day when they are more agitated and confused. Speak to your loved one's nurses or the staff to determine the time of day that is most comfortable for your loved one and plan your visits for that time. Many Alzheimer's patients become tired, aggravated, and easily confused in the evening (this is known as "sundown syndrome") and if this is the case for your family member, morning or afternoon visits will be preferable.
Make Eye Contact and Speak Slowly
You may need to adjust your conversational style when visiting your loved one. Eye contact is important because it can help your loved one feel more connected to you, even if they are a bit confused about why you are visiting them. Speaking slowly and pausing in between sentences is helpful because Alzheimer's patients often need to focus on one thought at a time before moving in on the conversation.
Bring Photos or Family Videos
Visual cues can help your loved one understand what you are talking about when words are not enough. Bringing photos or showing your loved one videos on a phone or tablet will help them make connections between the stories you tell and the people they know and remember. For example, instead of just telling them that their granddaughter has been getting really good at ballet, show them a photo or video to go along with your story.
It's important to remember that Alzheimer's patients sometimes live in their own reality, that they can't help this, and that arguing won't make them remember things more accurately. When your loved one says something that isn't true, it's better to just go along with it instead of pointing out that they're wrong, as this will only increase their agitation and confusion.
Visiting a loved one with Alzheimer's can be emotionally difficult, but by following these tips, you will make the most of your visit.