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Visiting People with Dementia

Posted by on 11/16/2012
Individuals with dementia can have difficulty with recent memories and with communicating, making it harder to maintain relationships with others on their own. Often, their friends, neighbors, and extended family members do not know how to handle this, so stop visiting or calling. Offer these tips to decrease the fear and make the visit successful.
Choose a quiet calm location - people with dementia can easily be overwhelmed and become anxious due to noise and and busyness around them
Introduce yourself, as needed - the person may not recall who you are so make it easy for him or her and introduce yourself
Keep focus on the person, using eye contact and patience - eye contact helps to make a connection with the person and fosters trust
Avoid correcting - instead offer reassurance and praise as the person does not understand the mistakes he makes nor corrections you attempt
Avoid open-ended questions - instead use yes/no questions or questions where 2 choices are given to make it easier for the person
Monitor body language and facial expressions of the person - if the person is angry becomes agitated, try a new activity or change of scenery
Enter their world - Talk about what they are thinking about at the time as their world is reality to them and you cannot change that
Reminiscence is a wonderful tool - Talk about past interests or significant life events.  Use old photos or momentos to trigger memories.
Use activities to form a connection and have fun together - puzzles, games, or other activities can be great to do together.

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