1. Get help. The best place to start is to talk with a professional who deals with dementia. I recommend reaching out to Neurologists, psychiatrists, and The Alzheimer’s Association. These professionals will help you with specifics about your loved one’s condition and give you strategies to help both of you survive the experience.
2. Treat the person with respect and give them a purpose. When someone knows that others depend on them for a task, then they feel needed. When we give someone a “job”, we can then focus on the need to be included, rather than the move.
3. Play in their reality sandbox. Dementia creates a new reality that is best “seen” by the patient. Trying to bring them into the reality we know is futile, as it doesn’t agree with their perception. It’s best to play along regardless of how different this may seem.
4. Don’t argue. A person whose memory is compromised lacks the ability to reason or accept what you may consider as “normal” thought processing. When it seems like the discussion will never end, try to change the environment or activity. “Hey, Mom, let’s go to the kitchen and fix a cup of coffee.”
5. Reminisce. Dementia robs a person of remembering recent events and they tend to live in the past. Going through photo albums, family traditions, and playing simple familiar games can be an enjoyable way to pass the time during visits.