by Bobbe White
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Visiting tips with elderly friends and family members.

Jeff and I have four parents, living in four different residences. His parents are 89 years old; mine are 93. Grandma lives a high-quality, independent life.  Our dads deal with Alzheimer’s or Lewy Body Dementia. My mom’s diagnosis read: “Failure to thrive; prognosis: Poor.” One year later, she’s still here. Should it be called, “Undecided thriving…?”

In any case, quality visits call for creative approaches.

Talking is exhausting                                                                                                                             

 Mom’s hearing aids don’t help much, causing us all conversation fatigue!
  • Lip-reading or yelling
    not at her, but TO her) works, except noise annoys others (and my brain).
  • Write, don’t yell
    Use whiteboard or paper.
Use brief sentences.
Make eye contact.
  • Sit close, if vision is poor, or even if it isn’t.


Staff and residents are used to me bringing baskets of clean, unfolded laundry
  • I fold, she watches.
  • She folds socks, but only if they match. (Bonus: gentle hand exercise.)
    Small towels
Buy additional socks, separate, toss in and pretend they’re clean laundry. You probably need some new socks anyway.

Activity-time visits:

  • Mealtimes:
    Help with feeding, setting table, serving or clearing.
Allows for communication (with others tablemates, too.)

Bring treats

  • Edibles: favorite snacks, entrees, drinks or sweets IF PERMISSABLE.
  • Puppies and babies: again, honor the rules. Know your pet. The only time we see mom emote is when either of the above visit.
  • Bring a friend

Just be there.

Mom’s not curious about our lives anymore; Dad doesn’t know us.
  • View TV/photos. (We avoid TV news, opting for lighter programs.)
  • Music or touch still reach Dad’s soul, even with Alzheimers’s. Pandora’s our buddy.


Good luck & Good visiting!

Bobbe White
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