This article for families visiting relatives with dementia in long-term care appears as a guest post on Deborah Shouse Writes where Deborah Shouse, author of Love in the Land of Dementia, offers advice and support for families along their caregiving journey.
It wasn’t just an ordinary visit. I walked into the long-term care facility and made my way to the memory care unit. I paused in front of the locked door, pulled a crumpled scrap of paper out of my pocket and tapped the entry code into the keypad. As I walked to my mother’s room, her new home, I felt sad, confused and guilty. How was I going to connect with my mom in this strange new environment?
Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD, author of The Savvy Resident’s Guide, has 16 years of experience as a psychologist in long-term care and understands the emotions and confusions family or friends might feel when visiting in a long-term care facility. Here are her tips for having a meaningful connection.
Seven Tips for Visiting a Loved One in a Long-Term Care Facility
Many families find it stressful to visit their loved ones in long-term care, especially if dementia has changed their usual ways of relating. Here are seven ways to make the most of your visits:
- Help the room feel like home by bringing photos and bedspreads, creating an environment that feels more comfortable and familiar to your relative and more pleasant for you to visit. Labeling the photos with names (such as “Oldest son, Sam”) provides reminders in your absence and clues for the staff that are with your loved one daily.
Turn off the television or radio and close the door during your time together. When the room is quiet and free of distractions, it’s easier for someone with dementia (and for those with hearing loss) to focus on their visitors.