As the holiday season approaches, families come together to celebrate and connect with their loved ones. For those of us with family members living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, these gatherings can be especially meaningful. At CountryHouse, we exclusively provide memory care services for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Our mission is to ensure that residents in our communities experience moments of joy every day, and we understand the importance of creating positive visitation experiences for both our residents and their visiting family members, especially during the holidays.
In this blog, we’ll explore ten ways you can help children have a good visit with their loved ones who utilize our Lincoln memory care services. By following these tips, you can make these visits more enjoyable, meaningful, and memorable for everyone involved.
#1.) Set Realistic Expectations
Before the visit, it’s essential to have a conversation with children about what to expect. Explain that their loved one may not remember them or may have difficulty communicating. Emphasize that it’s okay, and the goal is to spend quality time together, even if it means just sitting quietly and holding hands. This will help children, particularly younger children, have a better understanding about the visit as to not feel disappointed or let down.
As an added tip, remind any children that the visit may have to end earlier than expected just in case their grandparent isn’t feeling well. Dementia behaviors can often be unpredictable or flare up without rhyme or reason, so this insight in advance can really help.
#2.) Bring Familiar Items
Another recommendation is to encourage children to bring items that might spark memories or create a sense of comfort for their loved one. This could include old photographs, favorite books, or cherished mementos. These familiar objects can help establish a connection and stimulate conversations. Even if your senior loved one struggles to remember names and phases, mementos can do wonders for triggering memory recall.
#3.) Plan Activities
When visiting, it is important to engage in activities that everyone can enjoy together. Whether it’s playing a board game, looking through a photo album, or simply going for a walk in the community garden, these shared experiences can foster a sense of togetherness. Also, planning activities in advance can better help you to curate how the visit is going to go. If you know there is a specific activity your loved one enjoys and is also able to participate in without issue, that can be your go-to choice for your visit.
As a part of our Lincoln memory care services, we have a diverse activity calendar available every day for residents. Consider joining your loved one for a holiday movie or participating in a game of bingo together!
#4.) Be Patient and Flexible
It is important to remember that those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia may have mood swings or times where they might feel agitated or confused. Help to mitigate this by encouraging children to be as patient and adaptable as possible during the visit. Focus on the good and embrace every positive moment that you have together.
#5.) Create a Calm Environment
The environment can significantly impact the visit. Find a quiet and comfortable space where everyone can relax and engage in conversations without distractions. A great location for visits could be your loved one’s residential room, as it is set up exactly to their liking and it is a space where they feel both comfortable and safe.
Even though it can go against a young child’s nature, remind them to speak in a soft, calming voice for the duration of the visit. Sudden noises or loud outbursts might be off putting to a senior loved one with dementia. Encourage your child to use their ‘inside voice’, the same as if they were at school or a library.
#6.) Share Memories
When spending time together as a family with your senior loved one, it is important to reminisce and talk about events from the past. Talk to your children and let them know it’s a good thing to open up and share their own memories and stories with their loved one. Reminiscing about shared experiences can be a powerful way to connect and evoke emotions and responses.
#7.) Use Nonverbal Communication
Depending on what stage of dementia your loved one is in, their verbal communication skills might not be as sharp as they once were. This means that they might have difficulties talking or carrying on a conversation for any substantial length of time. Nonverbal communication, such as hugs, smiles, and eye contact, can be just as meaningful as words. Teach children that physical touch and positive body language can convey love and support.
#8.) Maintain a Routine
Consistency can provide a sense of security for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Try to visit at the same time or on specific days to establish a routine. Try not to interrupt crucial points in their routine, such as when they might be resting or eating. This can help residents feel more comfortable and anticipate visits from their loved ones.
#9.) Involve the Care Team
CountryHouse’s empathetic and well-trained team is here to support you and your loved one. Share your insights with the care team so they can assist during visits and tailor care to your loved one’s unique preferences and needs. They may also have some suggestions to help you to specifically connect with your loved one.
#10.) Celebrate Small Moments
Finally, remind children that it’s the small, meaningful moments that matter most. Whether it’s a shared smile, a gentle touch, or a brief moment of recognition, these instances can bring immense joy to both the resident and the child.
CountryHouse’s Lincoln Memory Care Services
The staff that provides our Lincoln memory care services understand the importance of creating positive and meaningful visitation experiences for children and their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. By following these ten tips, you can help children have a good visit and ensure that these precious moments bring joy, connection, and comfort to all involved during the holiday season and beyond. Together, we can make every day at a CountryHouse community a day filled with love, compassion, and cherished memories.
To learn more about becoming a resident of CountryHouse or to get more information about our memory care community, please contact us today!