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

about 5 years, said...

Yes. We just had visitors for the long weekend. We tried to limit the length of visiting per day, but it still wore my husband out.

about 5 years, said...

My DH has oversensitive hearing! When we go to parties or functions we stay at the end rows of dining tables or corners of sessions where there are less movements and lesser noise. And it helps. And he appreciates it. And we leave earlier than the others.

about 5 years, said...

People often do not understand how difficult it is on the person with dementia to concentrate with background distractions.

over 6 years, said...

Thank you yes i have tried some these tips . the one about turning tv down i usually mute the sound to focus and her. Also mom 's best time is in morning. and she does better with fewer people when we have visitors. thank you for your reminders.

over 6 years, said...

My son has his bad time in the AM he goes all morning not saying a word. I have gotten him to go to church on Sundays & a social time on Wednesday night. Also I got him to join a bowling league, which I think helps him a lot. He usually sits & does not talk, that is why I want him around people.

almost 7 years, said...

I have not been around since I am preparing to take off for two weeks for the Cape (Cod). It means I will not be able to access the great notes from you all. I am OK and sometime really down but I know you keep us all in your thoughts as I do for you my friends. Will be back mid- August so you all TAKE CARE! I will be using/applying all the good practical ways I learned from the group to lighten travel with my husband who has early stage AD. ALOHA!

almost 7 years, said...

Hi dianna3, Thank you very much for your question! Here is an Ask & Answer page that you may find helpful: ( http://www.caring.com/questions/tell-parents-friends-about-alzheimers ). Take care -- Emily | Community Manager

almost 7 years, said...

I never thought much about the TV being on. Mama works her circle puzzle books while I watch TV and she doesn't seem bothered by it. I will start paying more attention to that time and see if it irritates her. She is slowly staying away from all her old friends becasue she knows they notice that she doesn't think clearly a lot of the time and she seems to be withdrawing from them. I have encouraged her to continue to go to church with her friends but she had rather stay home and watch church on TV. I guess I should just let her do what she wants about that. I just don't know how to explain it to her friends that call me & are concerned about her! Any ideas?