Many families have a family member who suffers from memory impairment of one form or another. This can put a strain on relationships and make the family less likely to visit because they are not sure what to talk about when their loved one’s memory has faded. Rather than skip visits on the premise that they won’t remember anyway, we would like to discuss some ways that you can still visit your loved one and spend quality time with them.
If your loved one has slight memory impairment or is showing early signs of dementia, you can bring a family photo album and have them tell you the stories of when the photos were taken. If the memory impairment is advanced enough that your loved one can no longer recall memories, you can show them current pictures of your family and tell them stories of what is happening in the photos. These activities can strengthen your relationship as well as make your visit much more enjoyable for both of you.
Taking your loved one on a walk allows you to steer the activities away from the conversation and onto a physical activity. Going out for a walk helps both of you get fresh air and sunshine, which is good for both of you. If your loved one isn’t able to walk very far or go for very long, sitting in the courtyard can have the same effect. In the event of inclement weather, you can sit by a large window and watch the storm.
If you have children or pets, they can be great icebreakers as well as provide entertainment. If your family member lives in a long-term care facility or an assisted living you may need to get permission from the facility and be prepared to share the love as dogs, cats, and children tend to get a lot of attention! Pets and children have a way of putting people at ease and offer unconditional love.
Enjoying music is something that does not require a great memory to enjoy. You can bring along an album that you remember your loved one enjoying or you can bring something calm and soothing. If you have the resources or access to a live jazz band or a piano concert, instrumental music can be very soothing and help your loved one feel more comfortable. Music helps to fill the silence, which in the mind of someone who is memory impaired, can be deafening.
For a loved one with advanced memory impairment, it may be difficult to carry on a conversation and it may hurt that they no longer remember who you are. It is important to remember that it is not because they do not love you, but their brain is not cooperating with them. For these people, offering a distracting activity can help calm them down and make your visit more exciting. Bring along a sensory blanket, finger paint, or a felt activity book. Keeping busy hands helps to relieve anxieties and make visits more comfortable.
When your loved one’s memory begins to fail them, it can make spending time together more difficult. Often, we like to reflect on fond memories that remind us of why we love someone so much and when we cant, it puts a strain on visits. Don’t let the lack of memory decrease your visit time or the quality of time spent together. Simple adjustments can make you value your time together, just like in the good old days. For more ideas or information about memory care, contact us at A Place For Seniors.