Five Tips to Spending High Quality Time Together When Your Loved One Has Dementia

Grandparents Day 2010 (62)

Just because your loved one now lives in a memory care facility doesn’t mean you can’t spend quality time together. In fact, at Sunshine Care and most other facilities, we actively encourage family members and close friends to regularly visit their loved one. These visits often present unique challenges, as does any type of interaction with a person suffering from dementia, but with good planning and preparation, you and your loved one can have a fantastic time together.

At Sunshine Care, we have a lot of experience helping families plan enjoyable visits and trips with their loved one. Here are five important tips that can help you have a great time with a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

  1. Engage with the Activities Calendar

Every memory care facility already provides a variety of activities for their residents, and family members and friends are often encouraged to join in the fun. At Sunshine Care, for example, we host a regular garden club, bingo, baking activities, holiday-themed activities, and even dances. The benefit of joining a planned activity is that the staff will already help prepare your loved one and will provide support, guidance, and all supplies needed. You also won’t have to leave the facility, which can avoid stressful transportation and help your loved one feel comfortable in recognized surroundings. Call the memory care facility to ask about upcoming activities, or visit their website if they have an online calendar. Make sure you let the staff know in advance that you would like to visit for an activity so they can prepare for you and your group.

  1. Ask the Facility Staff for Help

Preparing to do a new activity like go out to lunch or start new crafts is easy for you and me, but it can be more difficult for someone with dementia. They need to prepare in a step-by-step fashion. If you try to pull them into an activity too quickly, they may become confused or overwhelmed. The staff of the memory care facility is here to help. Don’t overlook the great support they represent. If you would like to spend time with your loved one, call the memory care facility and let them know about your plans. If you give them a date and time, they can make sure your loved one is ready when you arrive. For instance, if you plan on taking your loved one out of the facility, the staff can make sure he or she is wearing appropriate clothing for the weather and activity.

  1. Host an Event at the Memory Care Facility

Taking your loved one out of the memory care facility for an event can be difficult. Those with dementia may get confused in new surroundings or may not demonstrate the best behavior in a public setting. If you would like to have a family dinner with your loved one or to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, consider doing it at the memory care facility. In many cases, the staff will allow you to hold a small event at the facility and can even assist with preparation. At Sunshine Care, families have hosted barbeques, private dinners, birthday parties and more. We provide a quiet and private space, prepare the room, and help the resident get ready for the special experience. Family members just need to bring food, drinks, cake, gifts, and any other special props they want to include.

  1. Stick to a One Hour Time Limit

If you do decide to take your loved one off the campus of the memory care home, we suggest keeping the activity down to an hour. One of the greatest difficulties we see is when a husband takes his wife out, and she has to use the restroom. The husband is then in a bind if his wife can’t use the restroom on her own. Activities of more than an hour may also be difficult for a memory care patient. He or she may get confused, agitated, or overwhelmed with all the new stimuli. You really don’t need to do anything extravagant with your loved one. In fact, the more low-key the outing, the better the outcome in most cases. Great off-campus activity ideas include:

  • A walk in a park
  • Visiting a coffee shop
  • Picnic at the beach or park
  • A farmer’s market
  • An art or history museum
  • A community fair

Some families want to take their loved one to a movie, but this might not be a great idea. Long movies can confuse a memory care patient, and bathroom needs may become a concern.

  1. Go On Outings With the Group

Most memory care homes, including Sunshine Care, take their residents off campus on regular fieldtrips. We often invite family and friends to join in. For instance, we regularly take our residents to lunch at a local eatery. Family members can meet us there and sit at a private table with their loved one. The benefit of this arrangement is that the staff at the memory care facility prepare and transport all the residents, so you just have to show up to greet your loved one. Additionally, the staff are on hand to help if issues arise or if your loved one needs restroom assistance. This is a great way to see your loved one outside of the memory care facility without losing the support of the facility staff.

At Sunshine Care, we love helping to facilitate visits from families and friends. We keep an events calendar on our website (www.SunshineCare.com) and can provide assistance and planning advice for your next visit. Give us a call at 858-674-1255.



Categories: Memory Care

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