How to Manage Visits with Your Loved One
If you are a caregiver for someone with a degenerative neurological disease, you probably realize that interpersonal interactions with them can be difficult. Sometimes you might say something that makes them react negatively, or other times they may be in a bad mood and you can’t figure out the reason why. While you can never predict the future, there are some cues to be aware of when making visits to your loved one in a nursing home or at their personal home. See below for some suggestions:
- Be Aware of Your Body Language: Just like interacting with anyone, be sure to make eye contact, listen to them when they are talking, smile and nod your head, and be mindful of how your body is “speaking.” Your loved one can still detect if you are uninterested or frustrated for whatever reason, which can cause them to feel similarly. Also, keep your head at the same level as there’s. For instance, if they are seated or reclined in bed, sit in a chair rather than stand over them, which can seem intimidating. Lastly, do not talk down to them. People with disorders like Alzheimer’s can still recognize tones in people’s voices, so it is important that you speak to them normally and with a positive tone.
- Do Not Flood Them with Information: If you are asking them questions, make sure you speak slowly and only ask one question at a time. Depending on what level their condition is in, you may have to stick “yes” or “no” questions. Additionally, remain positive in your language. For example, instead of saying “Don’t do that.”, say “Let’s do this.” This kind of tone can help you avoid conflict and negative emotions. Lastly, make sure your tone is kind and speak clearly for them to hear.
- Validate Their Feelings: Sometimes your loved one will feel aggravated or upset about something, and it might be hard to pinpoint what it that is upsetting them. The strategy here is to do the following: (1) Acknowledge that they are upset, (2) validate their feelings by recognizing they are experiencing real emotions even if you do not understand where they are coming from, and (3) redirect their attention to something else. Hopefully, this three-step process will work successfully to manage agitation or aggravation in your loved one. The overall point is to understand that your loved one is upset about something, even if you cannot recognize what it is. And, if possible, you should try to make them feel better by redirecting their attention on something else.
- Do Not Crowd the Room: If you notice there is already a visitor in the room, avoid going in so you don’t overwhelm the environment. You want to ensure that your loved one feels safe, secure, and uncrowded. When the other guests leave, then go in for your visit.
- Let Them Be Heard: Let your loved one express themselves about a particular situation, and take this feedback very seriously. Or, if they are experiencing memory issues, and they keep re-telling the same story or asking the same question, let them. It is polite to just answer the questions or listen to the story as if you’ve never heard before. Telling them they’ve already asked this or that may lead to frustration. You want to try and keep your visits as positive as possible.
For any more tips and advice, feel free to call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website for more!