Visiting your loved one with dementia in a nursing home? 3 Tips to help you make the best of your visit

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Visiting your loved one with dementia in a nursing home? 3 Tips to help you make the best of your visit

If you have ever visited someone with dementia in a nursing home, then you know it can be hard to think of things to do or talk about to keep the visit going.  The quality of the visit is much more important than the length of the visit.  Individuals with dementia may not remember what you did from visit to visit, but they will remember how you made them feel during your time together, so make the minutes count.


Here are some tips to help you have a successful visit:

  1. Keep it simple. You do not have to talk all of the visit or have a specific planned activity, just enjoy being together.  Hold hands, go for a walk, have a cup of tea, share some ice cream, smell the flowers, look at the clouds.  It’s okay just to be.  If you would like to have something to do, then bring simple activities along with you.
  2. Pack a visiting bag. If you visit the nursing home often, just leave a packed bag by the door that you can easily grab on your way out.  Fill the bag with your loved one’s favorite snack, deck of cards, photo album, interesting picture books, craft or hobby supplies, simple puzzle, favorite hand lotion, MP3 player, and book to read aloud to or with the person.
  3. Don’t quiz. No one likes to be asked things they don’t know. Instead of quizzing the person regarding the events of the day, share what you have been doing, or just converse about the activity your brought to do.  Don’t be surprised if your loved one forgets your name.  This is common and it does not mean the person doesn’t love you anymore.  I encourage families to wear a simple name tag (first name in large print) when they visit to help decrease any confusion and to enable the person with dementia to call you by name.

Although having something to do during a visit certainly helps to pass the time, remember that just sharing the time is what is important.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to entertain your loved one during every visit.  Pack some simple things to do, wear your name tag, and be thankful that you have the person in your life.

By | 2017-08-14T14:36:38+00:00 August 14th, 2017|dementia, nursing home|0 Comments

About the Author:

Jennifer Brush
Jennifer A. Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP has been working for over 20 years to change the face of dementia care in hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home care. Prior to establishing her own practice, Jennifer served for many years as the Executive Director of IDEAS Institute, a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of older adults through the conduct of applied research. She is an international speaker and recognized speech-language pathologist known for her work in the areas of memory, swallowing, and environmental interventions for people with dementia. She has served as the Principal Investigator on applied research grants that have examined issues pertaining to dementia, hearing impairment, dining, dysphagia, and the long-term care environment. Her research and consulting in the area of environmental modifications has resulted in improved functioning for people with dementia. Jennifer offers interactive and educational presentations and coaching that help clients bridge the gap between current research findings and the care needs of people with dementia. Jennifer Brush is the co-author of four books: Creative Connections in Dementia Care™; I Care; Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT) and A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval. She is the author of Meal Time Matters and Meal Time Matters at Home, training programs that build nursing assistants' and home caregivers' skills related to dining, swallowing disorders, and safe feeding assistance. Jennifer has authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals, served as guest editor of the journals Seminars in Speech and Language and Perspectives in Gerontology, volunteered as Chair of Professional Development in Gerontology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group, and was an editorial reviewer for Jennifer is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Jennifer is honored to be appointed by the Executive Director of AMI to serve as an inaugural member of the Advisory Group for Montessori for Aging and Dementia. This group is responsible for writing the AMI standards for Montessori dementia programs. Jennifer presented her research in the area of dementia at the first international conference for Montessori environments for dementia in Sydney, Australia in 2014, and spoke at the annual AMI meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2015. She will return to Sydney in November, 2015 to speak about creating supportive environments for the aging.
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