Memory care specialists agree; those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss benefit greatly from social interaction. If you have a friend or loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, learning about their condition is a great first step toward spending time with them successfully.
Experts in memory care, as well as long-time caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, have much to share in terms of communicating with a loved one with memory loss. The following advice can help you improve the quality of your visits:
- When planning a visit, make sure to coordinate with the person’s caregiver. They’ll know at what time of day their loved one is at his or her best for company.
- If the person doesn’t remember your name, don’t take it personally. Introduce yourself in a friendly way, such as, “Hi, Tom. I’m Lou. We used to work together.”
- Use their name frequently when you talk to them. Not only will this help keep their focus, but people also respond positively when they hear their name.
- Remember to make eye contact when you’re speaking to them. Approach them from the front and try to sit face-to-face so you’re fully visible.
- Speak slowly and clearly. They may have a hard time comprehending everything you say if you talk too quickly.
- Similarly, speak in short sentences with only one direct idea, so it’s easier for them to focus on one thing at a time.
- It’s common for people with memory loss to repeat questions or stories. If this happens, respond as if it were the first time you’ve heard it.
- Don’t argue or correct your loved one if they make a mistake. This may only confuse them more. Instead, understand that you’re visiting them in their reality, and do your best to help them enjoy the time you spend together.
- Don’t talk down to them or speak to them as if they were a child. Preserve their dignity by speaking to them like an adult.
- Talk about old times shared together more than recent events. People with dementia are more likely to forget recently learned information.
- Try not to bring up topics that might upset them. If they ask about a person who may have passed away, refrain from telling them so.
- Sometimes, it’s alright if you don’t do much talking. Your loved one can still enjoy your company if your simply watch a show together or read to them. The important thing is that you’re letting them know they’re not forgotten.
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