Visits from friends and family are not only for special occasions

Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday as it is sometimes called, comes up this month, but keeping the connections with friends and family is important at any time of year.

No matter how comfortable and welcomed our residents feel, regular contact with the people they love and who know them well can be helpful, especially for those who may be suffering from dementia.

There is a lot of evidence that visits from friends and family can stimulate the memory and mitigate the frightening feelings of being lost that may come with dementia.

Stephen Lowe, Social Care Policy Adviser at Age UK, says: “Being aware of an older person’s personal history and interests can make a real difference to their self-esteem and their self-confidence, and is very dependent on how staff interact with people.

“Older people should be seen as having a past and having had interests in their life, rather than as just someone who, for example, has dementia.”

While the care home may ask that you follow their hygiene and infection control protocols, there is otherwise no need for relatives to feel nervous or change their behaviour. In fact, sharing the activities that you always have can be particularly beneficial.  So, sharing photographs, memories, reading them books or newspapers, perhaps bringing in CDs of their favourite music can all help.

Similarly doing some of their shopping for personal items can be helpful since you are likely to know their tastes, likes and dislikes well.

If the care home can accommodate it, you could bring a much-loved pet to visit or take your elderly relative out for a meal or a coffee, or perhaps shopping. Again, with the guidance of the care home you may be able to help with their personal care, such as washing, doing their hair, maybe helping with a meal.

Young people, too, bring stimulation and variety and it has been found that they can often relate well to people with dementia and are happy to play games, either on a laptop or board games with them or to join in with activities offered in the care home alongside their relative.

At Aveley Lodge visitors are always welcome and there is an open house policy, so visitors can turn up when it is convenient to them. There is always tea, coffee and fresh home baked cake for visitors to enjoy.

We actively encourage family to bring personal items in from home including photos to help with memory recall and to make a resident feel at home and to use as a starting point for conversation

Visitors are encouraged to join in any of the activities and theme days we run for our residents and we have special events throughout the year. Visitors can also enjoy family dining experiences on site, too particularly at Christmas and our monthly newsletters to friends and family keep them up to date up to date with what’s happening

Our Summer BBQ and Xmas parties are packed every year with residents’ friends and family. We are guided by what family members wish to do to celebrate ones birthday and are happy to host small parties as would have happened if the resident was in their own home.