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Elder Care Tips: Prepare Family Members For Visiting Loved Ones With Cognitive Decline

elder care tips to prepare family members for visiting loved ones with cognitive decline atlanta ga

Elder care can be especially tough over the holidays. Especially if family members visit who haven’t seen loved ones with cognitive decline in a while.

With the holiday season upon us, it is quite possible that some family members have not been home to visit their parents in a few years. When this happens—and in the interim mom or dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive decline, and perhaps put in a nursing home or other care facility where they are getting elder care—it’s important to give those visitors an update before they come.

When you prepare visiting loved ones ahead of time, they can be as prepared as possible for what could be shocking mental and/or physical changes in mom or dad.

If video visits have not been a regular part of elder care life for those visiting over the holiday season, let guests know ahead of time about any changes in behavior or memory since their last visit. Providing a recent photo may also be helpful for changes in appearance.

You might also suggest ways for visitors, be they family members or friends, to listen patiently to themselves so they don’t find themselves criticizing their loved one for repeated comments, as well as not correcting errors and not interrupting. If appropriate, tell guests ahead of time what activities you have planned or suggest something they might bring, such as a photo album.

If your family member is getting elder care or lives in a nursing home or other care facility, you’ll want to minimize visitor traffic.

You can arrange for a few family members to drop in on different days instead of several small groups on one day or in one large group. People with cognitive decline are easily overwhelmed around large groups.

If your loved one is still in their own home and decorations were important to them in the past, you will want to tone those down and make sure your visiting relatives are aware of the need for these changes. Very often blinking lights confuse and disturb those with Alzheimer’s.

If you are the caregiver and the one performing elder care, you can and should take some time off while visiting family members are in town.

It’s important to be able to step away from caregiving if even just for a few hours. I know because my mom has been living with cognitive decline for many years. My family is practiced at tending to mom carefully as she continues to descend deeper into her condition and further away from us. Yet, it is still wonderful when she has moments of clarity, no matter how brief.

Wishing you and yours a safe, happy, and healthy Holiday Season.


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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