With contributions from Dr Jennifer Bute, psychogeriatric nurse Janet Jacob, and author and cognitive behavioural therapist Louise Morse, Visiting A Person With Dementia is designed to help friends and family spend happy and positive time with their loved ones.
Advice ranges from the practical to the spiritual. For example, you should approach people with dementia from the front, smiling widely as though seeing them has made your day. Never tap a person with dementia on the shoulder from the back which could startle them and cause a violent reaction.
Sit so you are at eye level, and slightly to one side so you aren’t overpowering. Know as much as you can about the person before you visit so you can choose topics to talk about that are relevant to them. Be prepared to sit quietly, but also be comfortable gently ‘burbling’ about different things until the person responds to something that catches their attention.
Relatives and friends often shy away from visiting people with dementia because the normal ground rules don’t apply, and they don’t know how to communicate effectively. Yet like most things, it’s not difficult when you know how.
God designed people to build one another up; to be His hands and voice. People with dementia need people. Even if they forget who you are, even if there is no conversation, only the touch of a hand, they will know they have been touched. And deep calls to deep: the Holy Spirit touches people in ways we cannot understand – Luke 1:41, Psalm 42:7. This booklet was written to help you know how to prepare to visit and how to bless people with dementia.