Have you ever noticed that the abilities of a person living with dementia can change greatly over short periods of time? It can be extremely challenging to know what exactly to expect on a day-to-day basis.
First, slowing down your initial approach can be very helpful. Greet them from a small distance away. Watch their face for any recognition of you, such as a smile or light in their eyes. If they seem to easily recognize you call them by the term you usually use to address them.
If they don’t recognize you slow your approach even more. Greet them using their given name (instead of mom or grandpa etc) Then, stretch out your hand to shake their hand. If they seem upset it may be better to try the visit another time.
Whenever possible, bring something for them to look at, taste, smell or listen to. Beautiful photos, a favorite recording of music, or a piece of fruit that you know they would enjoy. Taking the approach slowly, using your observational skills and bringing along objects can help to improve the chances of a positive interaction.
Even if the individual doesn’t know exactly who you are in the moment, if they feel that they like you in that moment, then the visit was a success!
(Adapted from article by Polly Logan)