A woman works on overcoming discomfort with Alzheimer’s while visiting a loved one who has the disease.

A diagnosis of dementia may also mean a diagnosis for loneliness. Though remaining social continues to be vitally important for people with dementia, various factors can cause an increase in isolation, such as:

  • Discomfort on the part of family and friends who are unsure what to say (or not to say)
  • The need to discontinue driving
  • Symptoms of the disease that make it challenging to communicate effectively
  • And more

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, the perfect time to learn how to overcome any obstacles to staying connected to a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

What Are Some Tips for Overcoming Discomfort With Alzheimer’s Disease?

First, know you’re not alone in feeling awkward or uncomfortable. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may cause some volatile and challenging behaviors. The person you know has changed. You might wonder if they will even recognize who you are, and if not, is it even worth visiting?

The truth is that even when the individual is confused about who you are, the chance to spend some time with a friendly companion is invaluable. Plan to leave your personal feelings about the visit at the door when you arrive. Focus your attention solely on how you can brighten up life for the person you love by putting on a caring, positive, and nonjudgmental attitude.

When you approach the person for your visit, keep these to-dos and not-to-dos in your mind:

Try to…

  • Ask questions that include an either-or choice: “I brought some treats. Do you want a cookie or a muffin?”
  • Make eye contact.
  • Relax your body posture.
  • Step into any alternate realities the person may be experiencing. For instance, they might believe they are a teacher getting ready for an upcoming class. Continue the conversation based on their lead and direction.
  • Sit down if the person is seated so you remain at eye level.
  • Introduce yourself in brief, to-the-point sentences: “Hi, Aunt Jill. I’m Sally, your niece. It is so good to see you.”
  • Bring an activity to share: photos to look at together, some memorabilia to make a connection with the past, music to listen to, a simple craft or hobby, etc.
  • Use a calm, slow manner of speaking.
  • Expect that the individual may not answer a question or react to a statement. Allow periods of silence, knowing your presence alone is beneficial.

Try not to…

  • Talk to them as though they were a child.
  • Correct or argue with your loved one.
  • Ask if they remember a person or event, which might cause confusion or frustration.
  • Show any fear, frustration, anger, or other negative emotions. The person will pick up on your body language and tone of voice and react accordingly.
  • Talk about them with other individuals in the room, like they aren’t there.
  • Take anything personally or allow it to hurt your feelings. Those with dementia may yell, curse, or say things they don’t mean. This is a direct effect of the disease, and not coming from the person.

How Else Can I Help Someone With Dementia Live a Better Quality of Life?

Among the best ways to provide support is by partnering with At-Home Care Company. Our dementia care experts are fully trained and experienced in all aspects of Alzheimer’s disease care. We serve as skilled companions to offer regular social connections with a person with dementia. We can also provide you with a number of resources, educational materials, and tips to help make life the very best it can be for someone you love.

Contact us online or call us any time at 515-292-2650 to learn more about our specialized home and dementia care in Huxley, Ames, Boone, and the surrounding areas.