Find a quiet place so that you can be heard easily and where there are fewer distractions.
Bring in a thermos of juice or tea and some cookies or fruit and have a “picnic” in a quiet place.
Keep the conversation light. The stimulation of a few funny stories and a smile goes a long way to making a visit enjoyable.
Reminisce about the early years of the resident’s life. Help the resident remember the songs he/she sang and the friends he/she had; what he/she liked at school or any travelling he/she did.
If the resident only wants to talk about going home, find out what he/she remembers of home and continue the conversation based on these memories. Perhaps he/she wants to be reassured that the past did exist and that their remaining memories are valid. This kind of remembering can reassure the resident and produce contentment.
Because many residents experience cognitive impairments, it is easier for them to understand you if you use short, simple sentences and speak clearly and slowly. You may need to repeat your sentences. Just as they cannot be hurried when walking, so can they not be hurried in their thoughts and communication.
Bring in a labeled photo album and go through it with the resident. Have all visitors’ sign a guest book with a short description of the topics discussed for reinforcement by staff.
Children and pets are welcome.
For variety, try a visit at mealtime. Call the home in advance to arrange a meal with the resident.
Read recent letters, cards and/or newspapers to the resident or help the resident write a letter or note.
Manicure the residents’ fingernails or assist with grooming (i.e. curl hair).