Visiting care homes
For those living with dementia, contact with friends, family and loved ones represents a fundamental need in order to help maintain true quality of life. Familiarity offers the chance to reminisce and enjoy a level of comfort that may otherwise be lacking, particularly as the condition progresses. As such, we at Avante Care & Support aim to provide welcoming and comfortable environments in our care homes, so that living life with dementia can be as fulfilling as possible. This in turn means ensuring that your visit is as rewarding as possible.
Plan your visit
The old adage that timing is everything is never more relevant than when visiting a care home for those living with dementia. While it may be more convenient for you to visit in the early evening after working hours, this is a time when residents may start to become tired and agitated. As such, setting aside the time to visit during daytime hours is highly recommended, as is scheduling a visit with staff to avoid disappointment if the resident is currently preferring to stay in bed, for example.
Prior to arriving for your visit, it pays to consider your greeting too. For those in the later stages of dementia and for whom living in the past is more common, you may find that they respond better to their most familiar name as opposed to grandad or dad, for example. While this may seem somewhat alien to you, it can help establish a connection that helps provide added comfort.
Don’t force things
It’s easy to feel like you should take the lead when it comes to your visit, thereby easing the burden on those living with dementia. However, ensuring that they can retain a level of independence and control is of the utmost importance, so gentle prompts and providing choice will prove invaluable. For example, you can ask which room they’d like to sit in, what drink they wish to have, whether they want to stay indoors or go out. By providing either/or options, you’re giving them the chance to feel valued and have their choices respected.
Bring a friend
Specifically a four-legged friend. Many people advocate the use of a ‘pet therapy’ for those with dementia, particularly once communication skills diminish. Whether it’s heading out for some exercise on a gentle dog walk, or even just sitting back and stroking a pet, there are multiple benefits to be garnered from visiting with your animal, such as improvements in mood, self-esteem and confidence.
As an alternative to bringing along a dog, if you have young children in the family, they always provide the opportunity to improve well-being among residents. Playing games, completing jigsaws and even just watching children play – such activities help keep everyone young and will undoubtedly warm the hearts of those living with dementia.
Make the most of time together
However your time is spent during a visit, it’s important that you make the most of it and treasure these moments. Care home residents will be able to pick up signals when visitors are uncomfortable or looking to make a quick exit. But this is time that is valuable for everyone, and time you can never get back. Ensure these precious moments are loving and warm, no matter how challenging they can sometimes feel.
To learn more about visiting care homes for those with dementia, you can liaise with the team at Avante Care & Support. We offer a number of care homes across Kent, each of which provides a safe and comfortable environment tailored to the needs of the individual.