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Making the Most of Holiday Visits to Dementia Sufferers

Holiday Visits to Dementia Sufferers With Christmas quickly approaching, it can be tempting to idealize nursing home visits – particularly if your loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. The nature of the diseases make family members want to believe their loved ones will be just a bit better.

Seeing things from the perspective of your loved one can help smooth the way to a more satisfying visit. Below, we’ve compiled eight holiday visit tips from Alzheimer’s Disease International, the Minnesota Health Department, the National Institute on Aging, and the Mayo Clinic.

  • During your visit, use slow and gentle motions. Smile. Keep lots of eye contact. Try to go along with your loved one’s stories, rather than arguing or negating them. 
  • If possible, visit with someone else. Review the nursing home’s policy on pets and children – they can help brighten a loved one’s day.
  • Keep in mind the important fact that people with Alzheimer’s and dementia thrive on routine. Carolers, unexpected parties, and having too many people around can cause stress. Keep visits low-key and uncrowded.
  • If you take a loved one home, remember to keep his or her medications handy, and to accommodate for dietary restrictions. Often, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia have severe sugar and/or sodium restrictions. 
  • Once at home, try to engage your loved one in gentle, low-stress activities. Ideas might include baking cookies, stringing popcorn garlands, and creating photo albums.
  • Make sure you’re ready in case of an emergency. Have the numbers of nearby hospitals, as well as your loved one’s primary caregivers at his or her nursing home. 
  • And finally, take time to care for yourself. Take a walk outside. Spend some time in a “quiet” room in the house. If you’re feeling extra stressed, talk things over with a trusted family member.

The holidays can be a wonderful time to reconnect with elderly family members. If you put a bit of extra time and effort into the reunion, the visits will be that much more rewarding.

Related Nursing Homes Abuse Blog Entries:

Nursing Home Visits Are Likely Awkward For You & Your Loved One…. But It’s Ok

“Awakenings” Program Helps Improve Quality of Life for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

Nursing Home’s New Approach To Alzheimer’s Care Promises To Improve The Quality Of Life For Patients

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