Visiting a friend or loved one who has Alzheimer's is a very difficult challenge but one that thousands of people from all over the world face on a daily basis. It is important that individuals with Alzheimer's disease are getting social interactions as frequently as possible, as it can help provide them with much-needed mental stimulation. However, even if you have known the individual with Alzheimer's for years, it can be difficult and overwhelming to know how to interact with them. There are several tips to consider during these important interactions that can help the entire process go smoothly for both parties.
Try to Keep Emotions in Check
It can be easy to get overly emotional during interactions with a person with Alzheimer's disease. However, it is essential that you try to stay as calm and positive as possible. The individual may not understand the context of the conversation, but they will understand anger or tears, and it can be overwhelming or confusing to them and they may get agitated during your interaction.
Seat Yourself for Face-to-Face Interactions
It is important to approach an interaction with an individual with Alzheimer's disease as carefully as possible. When you first enter a room to meet with someone with this condition, it is important that you place yourself at their level, and make eye contact. It is important that they see you and your face, as hover over them may be intimidating.
Avoid the Word "Remember" at All Costs
It can be very easy to use the word "remember" when talking with an individual with Alzheimer's. However, it is extremely important that you never use the word "remember" when talking with them. If they do not remember something, then you need to just move on in a calm manner. If you ask them "don't you remember?" chances are they will try very hard to remember something and get very overwhelmed when they can't recall the person, place or event. This will typically cause the person to get very overwhelmed and agitated.
Bring an Activity
Sometimes it is difficult for a person with Alzheimer's disease to carry on a full conversation. With this in mind, make sure that you bring an activity or something to look at. This can be a picture, photo book or a collection of images from their past or from their family. This can help keep the individual engaged and can help them remember certain things in a positive manner.
Use Their Name as Often As Possible
One of the things that individuals with Alzheimer's disease often always remember is their name. Make sure to use their name as frequently as possible when interacting with them. This will show the person with Alzheimer's disease that while they may not remember who you are, that you know who they are. Also hearing their name in conversation will spark their interest and keep them engaged while you are talking.
Keep the Conversation Positive
Little things can easily upset a person with Alzheimer's disease, which is why it is important to keep the conversation as positive as possible. Do not bring up any topic that could upset the person or lead to an argument. Do not tell them a loved one has passed away if they ask about them, and don't try to correct them if they get something wrong. Living with Alzheimer's can be overwhelming and agitating, adding to that frustration is not in the best interest of the patient.
While it can be overwhelming to have interactions with an individual with Alzheimer's disease, it is important to remember some of these tips when you visit this person. Also, even when interactions get overwhelming or they seem like a lot to handle, it is important to stick with it and keep visiting them, even if they don't necessarily know who you are. This can only improve the quality of life for the person living with Alzheimer's and help them feel loved and appreciated, while keeping their minds as sharp as possible.