5 Tips for Smoother Social Visits for Someone With Dementia

Social interactions benefit both the person with dementia and the caregiver, who are each at risk for isolation. So how can you help ensure that social visits go well, meaning that visitors want to return and the person with dementia wants to have them?

Try these ideas:

1. Limit the guest list.

Just one or two visitors at a time means there's less for your loved one to concentrate on. Conversation is easier to follow when there aren't multiple chats taking place at once.

2. Reduce the background noise.

Background "clutter" makes it hard to keep track of what's going on. When you want to have a conversation, turn off the TV and radio.

3. Choose a quiet place.

Move to a different room where children aren't playing or others aren't already conversing. In a public setting, a booth is better than a table in the middle of the room. The fewer distractions, the better.

4. Sit face-to-face.

Position the person with dementia directly across from visitors so that he or she can read facial expressions to help follow the conversation.

5. Time it right.

Choose a time of day when your loved one is in "top form" "“ that's often mornings, so consider inviting a guest for breakfast or brunch. Make sure there's a bathroom stop before the visit. Watch the person with dementia for signs of tiring or lost interest, at which point it's probably best to wind things down.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio