Alzheimer’s is an unforgiving disease. You do your best to be a caregiver for the one you love, but sometimes you might find that it’s time to move them into a memory care facility.
While it’s a delicate and difficult time, it’s important to make the best of your visits with your loved one. Here’s how to make the most out of your time visiting a memory care facility.
- Bring Them a Gift
Showing someone you care about with a gift can be a wonderful gesture and a great way to spend time together. It might be hard to decide what to get someone who has dementia.
DailyCaring, a site that specializes in advice for family caregivers, has come up with this list of gifts for seniors.
Create a custom photo album with memories of your lives together. Bring playing cards or a puzzle as a fun game you can do together during your visits. It’s all about getting creative and thinking a little outside the box.
- Be Patient
Memory care facilities often advise not visiting for the first week or two. This is because the nurses and aides need to spend time helping them adjust to their new environment. When you come for your first visit, remember to show up with patience.
They may have an even more difficult time recognizing you than before. Identify yourself and take things slow. It’s a difficult time for your loved one, even if they may not cognitively recognize it as such.
It’s also a hard time for you as well, though. There are a lot of emotions that coincide with this experience. Be patient with yourself, giving yourself the grace to feel your emotions rather than suppress them.
- Bring a Special Homemade Lunch
Seniors with forms of dementia can sometimes have trouble with their regular eating habits. There are different nutrition challenges for seniors that might be challenging for them when they first move into a new facility.
If you’re planning a visit, make a special lunch so you can enjoy a meal together. Think of something you know they love to eat that’s filled with protein and other essential nutrients.
- Bring Familiar Items
Consistency is always important when working with someone who has Alzheimer’s. On your next visit, bring a few things that are familiar to your loved one.
This could be things like one of their favorite music playlists by adding songs onto your smartphone, a book they love to read, or even the family pet. It’ll help to provide a sense of home in their new environment.
- Plan Ahead For Activities
It’s important to have activities planned ahead of time for your visit. Many memory care facilities have various activities throughout the day for their residents. It’s a great way to spend time with them by getting them to actively participate with the group.
Take a look at the upcoming calendar of classes and activities. They may have art classes, book readings, or walks through the outdoor community areas. It’ll also give you a better sense of what daily life is like for them as a resident.
- Know The Rules of the Facility
All facilities are unique in their own ways by having their specific rules. Being respectful during your visit of how they operate is incredibly important.
COVID-19 has become one of the biggest concerns for facilities today. Elderly residents are high-risk, so there are certain protocols such as wearing masks or visitor restrictions.
Talk to the aides, nurses and other staff members so they can share their policies. This will help by making the most of your experience while visiting your loved one.
- Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
It may be difficult for you to be apart from the person you love. With visits to a memory care facility, keep it short and sweet. Remember that your loved one is getting used to a completely new environment, daily routine, and medication routine.
This may take a toll on their energy levels and they may want to nap more frequently. Allow them the time they need to rest by keeping your visits to no more than an hour or so.
Loving someone who has dementia can be incredibly difficult. It’s even harder when you have to move them into a new community.
Make the most of your visit to a memory care facility by being prepared, having patience, and keeping your visits short. Over time, you’ll start to get a better understanding of how the community works, and your family member will become more acclimated to their surroundings.