How to Visit a Loved One in a Memory Care Community

Visiting a senior who lives in a memory care community can feel uncomfortable. Use these tips to make the time together more enjoyable for both of you.

Cheerful man talking to his grandfather and looking at a photograph

Alzheimer’s disease is often referred to as “the long goodbye” because it robs a person of their short-term memory, and eventually their ability to speak. Visiting a family member living with Alzheimer’s disease can be uncomfortable. This may be especially true if the senior lives in a memory care community.

What can you do to feel more comfortable visiting your loved one and encouraging others to spend time with them?

We have some suggestions you will likely find helpful.

6 Tips for Spending Time with a Senior in Memory Care

While families may feel like there is no point in visiting a person who doesn’t remember them, Alzheimer’s experts believe that’s just not true. Researchers say that people with Alzheimer’s disease maintain their emotional memory. That means they are able to remember the positive feelings of your visit long after you leave.

Here are a few suggestions for enjoying time with a loved one in memory care:

  • Explain who you are: While it might be difficult, always identify yourself to the senior. The disease can make names foggy, even if the face is still familiar. Appreciate the time you have together, and don’t get hung up on the idea that a parent or grandparent doesn’t know your name or who you are at every visit.
  • Bring an activity with you: It may help your visit feel more relaxed if you plan a small activity for the two of you to engage in together. Maybe it is an old family photo album you can flip through to reminisce. If you have a little more time, you could bring music to listen to or a small craft project to complete.
  • Enjoy the solitude: Your loved one might be happy just to sit with you, hold your hand, and watch the birds outside their window or people on the sidewalk going by. The solitude can be a welcome break for them, as well as you.
  • Enter their reality: A person with Alzheimer’s disease often creates their own reality. Don’t try to argue with them about it or change their mind. They aren’t capable of rationalizing situations like they did in the past. If they think it is time to go to work, for example, ask them how their job is going while also saying how nice it is that they have the day off. Don’t try to convince them they no longer work.
  • Connect with nature: Fresh air and the sounds of nature can be soothing for an adult with Alzheimer’s disease. If the community has a secure outdoor area, take a short walk together or sit on a bench outside for a few minutes. You’ll both benefit from the boost nature offers the spirit.
  • Consider the time: Talk with the staff to learn the best and worst times of day to visit. If your senior loved one enjoys specific life-enrichment programs, for example, ask if you can attend with them or if it’s better to stop by at a different time. Also, work around scheduled rest breaks or times of day when the senior enjoys a nap.

Get the answers to more questions about Memory Care on our Memory Care FAQ page.

Memory Support at The Wesley

If you are searching for a memory support community for a loved one in the Saratoga Springs, New York area, we hope you will consider The Wesley. Our proactive approach to care management allows adults with Alzheimer’s disease to remain stimulated in all areas of life. Contact us today to learn more.