Making visits count


‘What do I say or do when all my loved one does is beg to go home?’

shalev_hsBy Micha Shalev

Here are some tips to try to help during those times when your loved one is begging to go back home.

Visit regularly. Continued contact is vital to the individual’s well-being and assures him that he has not been abandoned.

Work with the staff. Share your concerns and your appreciation. Remember, they, too, appreciate “please” and “thank-you.” The staff can also learn from you. You know your relative best. However, do not expect or insist that the staff respond in a certain way when they are caring for your loved one.

Share activities with your relative. Be willing to tolerate confusion. Bring a sense of humor. Activities may include simple reminiscing, or reading aloud to the patient. The sound of your voice may be soothing even when he doesn’t understand the words.

A family member reports: “My husband, always an avid reader, has lost ability to even care about reading. He is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. I bring him first grade- level readers with large print and large colorful pictures. We sit together as he slowly reads, ‘See the big dog. His name is Dan.’

“We now share together as we talk about Dan, the pictures in the book, etc. At this stage I have to look on these times as quality times – knowing soon this too will be over. For today, however, we are communicating and sharing together.”

Other ideas include:

  • Walking, bird watching
  • Recording important family history or family recipes, working on a family    album
  • Sitting quietly, sharing a hug, or holding hands, giving a back rub, brushing hair, watching TV, etc.
  • Activity related to past hobby or interest
  •    Respect the schedule of the facility. Try not to visit during rest periods, therapy session, etc. Respect the privacy and needs of your loved one’s roommate and other residents.
  •    Allow him/her to ventilate and express feelings, (fear, anger, sadness) about placement. They still have adult feelings and these are very normal feelings, especially early in the placement. Later, look for positive feelings about the placement such as feeling safe, relief about not having to put up a social facade, and new friendships developed as a result of being in the nursing home.
  •    Keep down the number of persons who visit at one time. If it is a long trip and a number of persons must come at the same time, let some members wait in the lobby while others are visiting with your relative.
  •    If your relative is very agitated during your visit, break up the time you spend with him, i.e., spend a few minutes, leave and visit some other part of the facility. When you return, he may be less upset or he may even forget you were there.
  • If your family member is able and interested, vary the places you visit. Some examples include day room, quiet room, or outside (weather permitting). Visits away from the facility could include restaurant, malls, special interest or event. In all cases, evaluate whether or not your family member can tolerate the demands of the activity you have in mind. Too many people or activities may cause a catastrophic reaction and/or increase in agitation mode. Balance this with the fact that he/she needs pleasurable stimulation and a chance to participate in meaningful activity.

   Micha Shalev MHA CDP CDCM CADDCT is the owner of Dodge Park Rest Home and The Adult Day Club at Dodge Park, 101 Randolph Road, Worcester, as well as the new state of the art Oasis at Dodge Park which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. He is a graduate of the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners program, and well-known speaker covering Alzheimer’s and Dementia training topics. The programs at Dodge Park Rest Home specialize in providing care for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The facility holds a FREE monthly support group meeting on the second Tuesday of each month for spouses and children of individuals with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

Shalev can be reached at 508-853-8180 or by e-mail at For more information, visit Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at