Our tips for visiting someone with dementia, and what we learnt

For the last 2 years my wife’s gran had been suffering with Dementia. Sadly, earlier this year she passed away. However, during the previous 2 years of her illness, my Wife and I would visit her on a regular basis at her Nursing Home and based on our experiences we would adopt and try many things in order to make the most out of our visits. This is purely things that we found to be helpful during our visits, so this may not work for everyone. But we share these points with you, with the hope that some of them do. * Our visits were only between 30 minutes and 1 hour. As we found she would sometimes tire easily during our stay, especially towards the end. * My wife’s gran was religious and so whenever possible we would help her attend religious services such as the local church service every Sunday. * We would also sometimes go for walks or a drive together when we could. And if we could, we would visit the places that she knew well or grew up knowing. Her response and reaction to where we went was sometimes very encouraging to say the least. * When needed and if we felt she needed a lift or pick me up, my wife or mother in law would give her a small beauty treatment. Perhaps just a manicure or they would massage her hands and feet with cream. Or just give her a facial and apply some make-up. Not too much, but just enough to make her feel good. * We would help her make phone calls. And would always remind her to send Birthday/Christmas cards to those she loved and cared for. * My wife’s gran was once a keen gardener. And so with the permission of her Nursing Home we helped build and create a small herb garden. She really looked after this area for as long as she could. * We created a number of photo albums that weren’t too heavy for her to lift. So that she could look through all the family pictures and different periods of her life. This would sometimes lead her to ask questions, as it would help trigger a memory and sometimes a smile. * We took in some of her CD’s that she had of her favourite singers from the 1940s era, so that she could listen to her favourite music. Sometimes she would recall a verse and sing along to the old favourites that she knew. * Book reading was another reward we had, as she always loved to read. But sometimes she would forget where she was in the book. So we would either read the book out aloud with her. Or always leave a number of bookmarks for the books. * We also tried to bring the grandchildren and great grandchildren to visit her whenever we could.

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