It’s all in the timing
Try and visit in the middle of the day. Evenings can be quite difficult for residents in care homes as they often become tired and agitated. Neither of you will get the most out of a visit at the end of a day, so avoid that slot if you possibly can.
The last thing you want to do is turn up to a home with a jigsaw puzzle to do together when your loved one doesn’t want to get out of bed. Ask the staff what to expect and you can come prepared.
Think about how to best greet your loved one
As dementia progresses, and the person spends more time living in the past, they will probably respond better if you use their most familiar name. Being called Dad or Grandad might confuse them so you may have to get used to using their Christian name if that puts them at ease.
Let the person living with dementia lead the way at the visit
Ask them if they would like to sit in the lounge or their room; if they would like tea or coffee; if they would prefer to have a stroll around the inside of the home or the outside. They need to feel valued and independent.
Try to turn off background noise
Loud environments can be disorientating at the best of times but for someone living with dementia, being confronted with a blaring radio in one room and a loud television in the other can be especially confusing.
Take along a four-legged friend
The positive benefits of stroking a dog cannot be over-estimated – and are even more beneficial for someone who has perhaps lost some of their communication skills.
Fresh air and a walk are good exercise whatever your age – just tailor how strenuous it is to the right level. A gentle stroll in the park or to a nearby shop
Have a duvet day
Snuggle down to an old film with popcorn and a choc ice.
Bring some jobs that need doing
Maybe you have got some peas that need shelling or some flowers that need arranging. This will give them a real sense of purpose and give you both something to talk about.
Bring someone along to your visit – even if they can’t make it in person
Get them to record a video message, write a letter, send some pictures or speak over Skype.
Do a project together that you can pick up on every visit
Like knitting a scarf, following a tapestry project or making a collage. You will both have something to look forward to then.
If you both used to read the papers over breakfast or on lazy Sunday mornings, carry on doing just that
Take two copies of the same newspaper so that you can talk about the articles that interest you both.
Play a game
It’s easy to think that just because someone isn’t communicating well that they can’t play Scrabble, or bridge or whist. You might just be surprised!
Here are five things you can do with children to make a visit especially rewarding
Call the care home and see if there is going to be a particularly good day to visit with your child. Maybe they have animals visiting or have a baking class the child could join in with. It’s definitely worth asking.
Whenever you visit, pack plenty of toys – but leave the noisy ones at home
Search out any toys that the child and the resident can enjoy together like completing a jigsaw or sharing a book. The traditional fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella would be particularly worth bringing along.
Take some sweets
A sweet treat for the resident to give to their youngest visitor. Who doesn’t like Grandma’s sweetie box?
Ask the child to make something
A special gift for the person they are visiting – a picture, a cake or model all go down well.
Get out in the garden
Have a look at what the gardening club has been up to and see if the family can help with any dead-heading, weeding or tasting!