“Why Don’t You Ever Visit?” How Often to See a Loved One Living in Anchorage Memory Care

A third of all seniors in the U.S. will die with some form of dementia. That means you’ll most likely have, at some point, a friend or family member living in a memory care unit or nursing home. And you’ll most likely struggle with how often you should visit, for the patient’s health and yours. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide:

How confident are you about the quality of care at the facility?

The vast majority of residential care homes staff their facilities with responsible, dedicated professionals who work hard to make your loved one’s last years easier. Even the best staff, however, can be stressed by overcrowding or funding issues. When your loved one first moves into a residential care facility, it’s best to visit (or arrange other friends and family to visit) once a day for a while, coming in at different times of day and checking in regularly with the doctors. You aren’t going to be able to rely on the patient to report accurately on her transition. Dementia patients are often confused and paranoid. But you should be able to judge within a week or two whether the place is a good fit, and cut back on your visits, if you so decide, after that. Furthermore, a constant stream of family and friends, especially ones who find time to offer kind words or treats to the hardworking attendants, goes a long way to making sure your loved one gets the attention she needs.

How emotionally capable are you of handling visits?

Spending time with a loved one with dementia can be difficult. He may beg you to go home, or not recognize you, or not be able to hold a rational conversation. The person you used to know and love is gone when dementia takes over. If your distress over this is evident to the patient, or if you unintentionally agitate him by trying to force him to recall shared memories, your visits won’t help either of you. It might be best, in this case, to limit visits until you can come to grips with the patient’s condition. If you’re the primary caregiver or the closest family member, then perhaps it’s best to call the facility for updates and recruit other, less close friends and family for the in-person visits.

Who are you to the patient?

If you have primary legal responsibility for the patient, you’re going to have to find a way to monitor her care, whether that means calling in, arranging for a rotation of visiting friends and family or talking with a social worker about how to manage your grief during face-to-face interactions. Otherwise, visit the dementia patient as often as you can while remaining calm and positive. Your efforts will provide relief to the primary caregiver and some variety in the day of the patent.

It may seem that these questions focus more on the emotional health of the visitor than on the emotional needs of the dementia patient. The truth is, they cover both. The dementia patient will do best in a residential facility with top personalized care and regular interaction with kind and calm visitors.