Visiting - Seeing the Value & Overcoming Obstacles
“Why visit Grandma if she’s not going to remember anyway?” my daughter-in-law asked me. At the time, I hadn’t found many answers and probably mumbled it would help anyway. Mom loved watching their little children play.
Now I know research has shown while a person with dementia might not remember the reason for her joy after a visit, the emotional lift and well-being persisted through the day. So, if we can visit and bring joy and happiness to a loved one with dementia—it doesn’t matter if they are not going to remember to give us the credit.
There is value in visiting—but we might be afraid we won’t know how to act or what to say. Just relax. Try to see with her eyes and enjoy the challenge of rolling with whatever happens. If your loved one has slipped into her own world, try to join her in it. When I entered Sienna Crest to visit Mom, I would picture Alice in Wonderland as I opened the door. I reminded myself I was entering her world and prayed for guidance.
Another major obstacle is the offense of not being recognized or known. One woman shared she had visited her grandmother in a nursing home and had a wonderful visit. However, at the end, her grandma asked her who she was. Believing the visit had been a waste of time, she never visited her grandmother again. I did not know what to tell her—so stated this was a fairly common occurrence. At the time I did not understand why my mom would ask similar questions.
The brain is a marvelous supercomputer. Our loved ones with Alzheimer’s struggle to connect facts and data with events and daily life. However, their ability to perceive emotions and respond to them is enhanced.
With their emotional intelligence they know we are important to them, but they can’t recall our name or comprehend the family relationship. So, they reach out for help. Instead of being offended, let us be encouraged. Our visit was important enough for our loved one to ask who we are to her.
At end of many visits Mom would ask, “Did I marry? Did I have children?” I would hug her and say, “Yes, Mom. You married. You had four daughters and I am your daughter. You were a wonderful mother.” With relief in her eyes, she would say, “I thought so.”
So—visit, even if your loved one cannot recall your name. If she responds well to you and you feel led to visit, do so.
And don't forget Galatians 6:9--“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” ESV
Welcome to the blog page for Biblical Dementia Caregiving. It is a resource to come alongside as you walk the dementia journey with your loved one. My name is Dorothy Gable and I wish to help, encourage and share the lessons we learned caring for my mother with dementia. For more of my story, please see the About page in this website.