Providing Meaningful Visits in Memory Support

Podcast   |   By HumanGood


The below is a transcript of the podcast, “Providing Meaningful Visits in Memory Support” with Angela Champlin.



Welcome to this special series, where our director of memory support services, Angela Champlin, will discuss topics of interest to family members of someone who is served by HumanGood's memory support program. Today, Angela talks about how to plan and implement a meaningful visit with your loved one in memory support. 


Supporting Loved Ones Living with Dementia Through Meaningful Visits

Hello and welcome to this resource for families. My name is Angela Champlin, and I'm the director of memory support services for HumanGood. Our mission at HumanGood is to help older adults live their best lives possible — however they define it. The products and services we offer are designed to support those we serve, their families and our team members in the pursuit of an engaged, purposeful life.

When it comes to our memory support program, the best way for us to embrace our mission is by immersing ourselves in the life of each person living with dementia, wherever they are in their journey. We respect and honor each person living with dementia as they are now at this point in time, and we build on their strengths to provide them with their best lives. This philosophy is the reasoning behind the name immerse™, which is the name of our memory support program at HumanGood.

Supporting a loved one living with dementia is not easy, and we at HumanGood recognize this. We are pleased to provide this educational resource to assist you with immersing yourself in the life of your loved one. The focus of this session is providing meaningful visits in memory support.


Defining Dementia & Dementia Care

Because language is powerful and has an effect on how we see and feel things, it is important to share the meaning behind some of the words and phrases you will be hearing today. Historically, the words used to describe dementia were negative. Phrases such as “demented person” and “person suffering from dementia” were commonly used terms that focused on weaknesses and illness rather than on strength, wellness and the whole person. 

The Alzheimer's Society developed the term “person living with dementia” to avoid reducing individuals living with dementia to a diagnosis and instead place the focus on the fact that it is a way of living. This is why, at HumanGood, we use the term “person living with dementia.”

You are likely familiar with the term memory care when referring to the level of living provided for people living with dementia. Because the word “care” in this context is passive, it implies that we provide all care for the individual, and the person living with dementia is a passive participant. At HumanGood, we refer to this level of living as memory support since we strive to provide the amount of support each individual needs to promote as much independence as possible for the person living with dementia.


Advice for Your Visit

It is often difficult to know what to expect when visiting a person living with dementia, especially when you are visiting them in an environment different from what you have always known. The progression of the disease can make things unpredictable and even uncomfortable at times. 

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you make the most out of each and every visit with your loved one:

  • Advanced planning can help make the visit successful. When planning the time of your visit, it's best to prioritize the schedule of your loved one. This will provide you with the best chance of making the visit enjoyable and positive for you both. Talk to the memory support leaders to understand the routine of your loved one. People living with dementia often have periods of time in the day when they are at their best, both physically and mentally. This is the ideal time to visit if you are able. Avoiding meal times, nap times and late-day restlessness (otherwise known as “sundowning”) are also helpful when scheduling your visit.

  • When you are planning your visit, remember that, often, less is more. Your loved one may become overwhelmed by having more than a couple of visitors at a time. It is usually best to plan for only one or two visitors at a time — perhaps even staggering visitors to times that coincide with your loved one's schedule.

  • Bring something with you to share with your loved one. Think about what your loved one enjoys. Maybe it is a special snack that coincides with the texture of their diet, old photos of loved ones to reminisce about, some of their favorite songs on your phone or anything else they may enjoy. This will help to provide a focus for your visit.

  • Be prepared to immerse yourself in the world of your loved one when you visit. This is not always easy but does have a profound impact on the success of the visit. Every person living with dementia is unique. No two people's disease progresses in the exact same way. People living with dementia also can exhibit changes from week to week, day to day and sometimes even throughout the day. It's important to remember this to help you prepare for the visit.


Knowing What To Expect

At the time of the visit, your loved one may think they are a different age or in a different setting — or possibly even both of these things. They may not recognize you for who you are, such as a child, spouse, or friend. This is difficult to experience. The best way to handle this is to introduce yourself to your loved one. "Hi, Dad. I'm your son, Pete," may be helpful. If this does not help the person living with dementia to recognize you, be prepared to just go with the flow. For this visit, just be a friendly face, be patient and make small talk about things they like. Gentle reminders may be OK, but don't argue with the person if they don't respond in the way you hope.

People often ask, "How often should we visit?" The truth is it depends on the effect the visits have on the person living with dementia. Whether the person has just moved to the memory support neighborhood or has lived there for a while, there is no magic formula to define the frequency of visits. 

Observing the reactions of the person living with dementia and communicating with the memory support leaders are the best ways to know the effects your visits have — not only during the visit but after the visit as well. By observing the reactions of your loved one, you can also determine the length of time your visit should be. As long as the person living with dementia is enjoying the visit and is engaged, then likely the visit should continue. If, however, you notice the person exhibiting restlessness, fear or anxiety, it is likely time to end the visit.


Ending the Visit

Sometimes, even the best visit can become stressful if the departure is not done in a way that is beneficial for the person living with dementia. It is usually best to say a simple, "See you later." Give a hug if this is your normal routine, and then leave. Prolonged goodbyes and telling the person living with dementia that you will miss them are not the best ways to end a visit.

Sometimes, the person living with dementia accepts the departure more easily when you communicate with a team member that you will be leaving so that they can engage your loved one in a way that is positive for them after your departure.



Please remember that, at HumanGood, we are here to support you as well as your loved one. Please don't hesitate to ask questions or share anything you notice with a team member. We appreciate your partnership in providing the best life for your loved one.

Thank you for your time. We hope you found this to be helpful in ensuring successful visits with your loved one. The memory support team in your community are here to be your partners. Thanks for joining us, and we wish you peace on the journey with your loved ones.

This has been an educational resource developed by HumanGood's immerse™ program.

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