Avoiding the Arguments: Tips for Getting Loved Ones with Dementia to Attend an Adult Day Center
Have you ever walked into an adult day program, listened to the laughter, or watched center participants – “members” – having a really good time with peers? It is surprising for most to learn that many of these same people were reluctant to come to the center in the very beginning. When someone is struggling with memory loss, the thought of going someplace unfamiliar, to be with people they don’t know for reasons that they can’t understand is not a choice that most would make willingly.
So, it is seldom that a new member walks in the door and says, “Gee, this is swell!” But, it does happen. Some families are solution seekers and are quick to recognize the countless benefits. They are the ones that struggle for the first few weeks to get them here… and feel that it is worth every effort. It is definitely a challenge but they understand that people need to keep their mind and body active, to socialize with peers and have a life with meaning and purpose in spite of diagnoses of dementia.
Often family caregivers will use one of the following tips to ensure success in getting loved ones to attend.
1. Identify the day program as a social club, memory class, or an adult day club or as an activity center.
2. “Your doctor said that you should need to go because it will help you …”
- Keep your mind active
- Stay independent
- With your mobility issues so that we can keep going places together
- Keep other brain cells healthy, like “brain therapy”
3. “But mom, we already made your reservations for their luncheon, entertainment program, special event, etc. – and they are expecting you”
4. “They’re counting on you to volunteer and help with…”
- The hospital pillow project
- Fixing the flowers for the dining tables
- Watering the plants
- The Sing-a-long and to pass out song books
- Calling Bingo or teaching one of the other ladies to play bingo
5. “You promised me (…you told your doctor) that you would at least try it…”
- a couple of times
- for two weeks
- for one month
6. Ask him/her do come simply because they love you and you need to go to (the doctor… work… run an important errand) without worrying about them missing a nice lunch, being safe, being all alone or needing something.
7. Some clients might be willing to come as a “volunteer”, “employee”, or toactually present a special program, share a travel experience or talk about a special achievement.
8. Discuss health concerns that could be monitored that day by the nurse. A wellness check-up might include, weight, blood pressure monitoring, foot care, etc.
9. Reassure them that you will be back to take them home and write a note to them with the time you should arrive. Be sure to lovingly sign it and give them the copy to keep with them.