Family members or other very close loved ones who are accustomed to visiting may have a set routine and may have learned some or all of the tips below. But if you’re a friend visiting for the first time, or if you don’t visit the person very often, you may feel awkward and not know what to do.
I have compiled these tips based on four sources, including an article of mine published on the Huffington Post, an article published by Carole Larkin on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, and personal communications from Teepa Snow (05.30.13) and Tom and Karen Brenner (10.03.13)
When I reviewed the sources I discovered that several tips were found in two or more of them.
- Start off by looking friendly, making eye contact, offering a handshake and introducing yourself (Snow, Larkin)
- Be at their level physically – bend down if necessary – for example, if they are in a wheelchair. (Larkin)
- Talk about the old times more than recent information (Snow)
- Don’t ask if they remember something (Marley; Larkin)
- Speak calmly, slowly and in short sentences (Larkin, Snow)
- Ask only one question at the time and pause between thoughts or ideas to give them a chance to answer. (Larkin, Snow)
- Don’t correct them or argue with them (Marley, Larkin, Snow)
- Keep memories positive. Don’t bring up topics that could upset them. Turn negatives into positives (Marley, Snow, Larkin)
- Do something with the person rather than just talking to them. Bring pictures, CDs of music the person used to enjoy, or other “props” (such as items related to one of the person’s special interests), to bring up old memories. (Snow, Brenners)
- Tell them what you are going to do before you do it – especially if you are going to touch them. (Larkin)
Following these tips should make you feel more at ease and make your visit more enjoyable.
Does anyone have any additional tips for visiting a friend with Alzheimer’s?