A woman attempts to ease discomfort with dementia while visiting a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

A diagnosis of dementia may also mean a diagnosis for loneliness. Though socialization continues to be essential for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple factors can cause an increase in isolation, such as:

  • The need to discontinue driving
  • Symptoms of the disease that make it challenging to communicate effectively
  • Discomfort on the part of friends and family who are unsure what to say (or not to say)
  • And more

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a good time to figure out how to overcome any obstacles to staying connected to a loved one with dementia.

How Do I Ease Discomfort With Dementia While Visiting a Loved One?

First, know you’re not alone in feeling uncomfortable or awkward. Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can cause some irregular and challenging behaviors. Your loved one is different now. You may wonder if they will even recognize who you are, and if not, is it even worth visiting?

The reality is that whether or not the individual knows who you are, the opportunity to spend time with a friendly companion is invaluable. Plan to leave your personal feelings regarding the visit at the door when you arrive. Concentrate solely on how you can brighten up life for the person you love by putting on a positive, nonjudgmental, and caring attitude.

When you approach the individual for your visit, keep these to-dos and not-to-dos in mind:

Try to…

  • Make eye contact.
  • Use a calm, slow style of speaking.
  • Bring an activity to share: pictures to look at together, some memorabilia to make a connection with the past, music to listen to, a simple craft or hobby, etc.
  • Relax your body posture.
  • Take a seat if the person is seated so that you remain at eye level.
  • Step into an alternate reality role along with them if appropriate. For example, they might believe they are a teacher preparing for an upcoming class. Continue the conversation based on their lead and direction.
  • Expect that the person might not answer a question or respond to a statement. Allow periods of silence, knowing your presence alone is beneficial.
  • Introduce yourself in brief, to-the-point sentences: “Hi, Aunt Jill. I’m Sally, your niece. It’s so good to see you.”
  • Ask questions that include an either-or choice: “I brought some treats. Do you want a cookie or a muffin?”

Try not to…

  • Take anything personally or allow it to hurt your feelings. People who have Alzheimer’s may curse, yell, or say things they do not mean. This is a direct effect of the disease, and not coming from the individual.
  • Correct or argue with the person.
  • Talk about them with other individuals in the room, as if they aren’t there.
  • Ask if they remember an individual or event, which could cause confusion or frustration.
  • Show any frustration, anger, fear, or other negative emotions. The person will pick up on your body language and tone of voice and respond accordingly.
  • Speak to them as if they were a child.

How Else Can I Help Someone With Dementia Live a Better Quality of Life?

One of the best ways to provide support is by partnering with Morning Glory Home Care. Our dementia care specialists are fully trained and experienced in all aspects of dementia care. We serve as skilled companions to allow for regular social connections with a person with dementia. We can also provide you with a number of resources, educational materials, and ideas to help make life the best it can be for someone you love.

Reach out to us online or call us any time at 618-667-8400 to learn more about our specialized home and dementia care in Alton, Collins, Highland, and the nearby communities.