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Are you unsure when to visit your aging loved one? Do you not know what to talk about or how to engage them in conversation? Many people will avoid visiting their aging loved ones because it can be an uncomfortable situation. There may be physical or emotional barriers to overcome that can deter you from visiting; however, visiting your loved ones will not only bring them joy, but it will also improve their physical and mental health. Although it can be uncomfortable, here are a few tips to make your visit an enjoyable experience:

Time Your Visit

When you visit with your loved ones, remember to accommodate their schedule. If they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s and the morning is best for a visit, clear your schedule to match theirs. Seniors tend to have many doctor’s appointments and tend to sleep during the day, so make sure you verify their schedule to ensure you visit when they’re at home and alert. Your loved one will appreciate your efforts to meet their needs, and it will start the visit off on the right foot.

Set the Right Tone

Leave all your stress at the door. This visit is about your loved ones and helping them feel loved and noticed. Going into a visit with the stress of work or outside family life will only hinder communication. Remember to be patient with them and have an attitude of love. Don’t stand stiffly next to someone sitting in a wheelchair or seat who can’t rise up easily to greet you. Get down on their level or sit next to them and make eye contact. A touch of the hand or a welcome hug will also ease any potential awkward moments and set the right tone.

Tweak Your Communication Style

When visiting loved ones who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s, you will have to alter your communication style. Many times seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s require more patience and love. If your loved ones are hard of hearing, remove all ambient noises and look directly at them so they can read your lips. This will diminish frustration on both ends of the conversation.

(Related Article: 3 Tips for Communicating with a Loved One Who Suffers from Dementia)

Change the Scenery

Move your conversation outside of the home by taking your loved ones to their favorite park or sitting bench for a change of scenery and pace. This will get them out of the house and provide a form of exercise! Bring along a snack or drink and make a picnic of it as well. Changing the scenery will lift their spirits and will remove some of the “performance” pressure you may feel when visiting in their home.

There are many factors that go into a successful visit with a loved one. As you prepare, factor in their physical and mental health, as well as their social calendar and emotional well-being. Seniors who are physically disabled, going outside may be a struggle, and those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia may require more thoughtful action. As you consider these factors, you’ll be able to build your relationship and connect with your loved ones.