Visiting a Loved One with Dementia Requires a Delicate Balance

Visiting a Loved One with Dementia Requires a Delicate Balance
Something as simple as an overnight visitor or a dinner guest can send a person with Alzheimer’s disease into a bit of a tailspin. The person ringing the doorbell might not be a stranger, and they may have been a previous guest. However, to someone battling dementia, the loved one on the other side of the door may appear to be totally unfamiliar. It’s natural, and even encouraged, for extended family members to visit loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. But the act of entertaining often is left, awkwardly, to the caregiving family. Sadly, in an odd paradox for caregivers, entertaining can become more of a chore than a joy. This is especially true if the visitor doesn’t quite comprehend the veracity of Alzheimer’s disease, and how it works against a loved one’s ability to converse on a similar level as they have in the past. My mother loved people, and she loved entertaining. But it became challenging as dementia continued its onward trek. I remember when a distant relative once visited, and the fourth time Mom repeated the same question, the visitor grew impatient. I noticed a slight annoyance to her tone when answering my mother. It was slight, and Mom didn't seem to notice, so I let it go. But ignoring the terse response didn’t make it any less awkward as our family tried to continue with pleasant conversation over dinner. On another occasion, a closer relative visited and was convinced that if Mom had more interests and distractions, her dementia would dissipate. I kindly explained to the visitor that denial had prevented her from accepting my mother's Alzheimer's diagnosis. No amount of distraction would change the diagnosis. Beside
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