Visiting a friend or relative with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) whether in their home or in a care facility can mean a great deal to that person. But what to do during the visit can be a difficult question. Our traditional view of “visiting” someone is based on conversation, and among those with AD, conversational skills deteriorate. However, if we recognize that a “good visit” is any get-together for which the result is a positive emotional feeling on both sides, the possibilities are limitless. Remember that the person you are visiting has had a life rich in experiences, relationships, hopes and dreams, and that there are many ways to connect with the person.
- With AD, recent memories tend to go before old memories. So try to talk about fond memories from the distant past. For example, talk about things associated with their old job, previous pets, hobbies, or favorite music/songs.
- Talk about familiar objects that have personal meaning to the person. Look at old photos, discuss memorabilia, or listen to music that she/he liked.
- Use the senses of touch, smell, and taste to try to trigger old memories.
- Engage in activities that had/have meaning to the person. Bring activities that you and the person can easily share and that is appropriate for her/his level of ability. For example, if the person enjoyed knitting or painting, try those activities together. If she/he enjoyed gardening, bring some flowers or a small plant and spend time pruning or arranging them.
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