Making the most of your visit

Dementia advice

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.

Call ahead

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.               

Go outside

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

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 ahead

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!


Share this article