Your goal is to discover the person and make a new friend. Our simple, Top 10 Tips are important to learn before your Visit as they can be extremely helpful!
Tip 1: Model joy and calm.
You will be setting the tone. Your partner may be scared or unsure about the meeting and may pick up on your energy! Good to be kind, show respect, enjoy the process and always be honest!
Tip 2: Engage your and their senses remotely!
Tune in! Make eye contact, look into the camera instead of looking at yourself. Notice the way they look, any subtle movements they make. Listen carefully when they speak. Speak slowly, clearly and loud enough so it is easy for them to hear and understand you. Show them that they are seen and heard.
Tip 3: Figure out quickly what they CAN do and adapt.
If you engage your senses, then during your conversation starters (see below), you can learn about their interests and decide if and what module(s) you might like to bring into the Visit. We suggest starting with one module and if the conversation is going well, then you may choose not to use any of the modules.
Tip 4: Share a story.
Coming prepared with true, short stories (what happened last summer? What did you do today? Do you have a camp or adventure story to share?) is a great way to fill conversation if there is a lull. Your story might also spark more conversation! Funny stories are wonderful (as long as they are true and don’t mock anyone)!!
Tip 5: Give a compliment.
Notice something special about your partner – their eyes, their hair, their smile, their voice, etc. – find something you genuinely like about them and let them know! You may be nervous, but it’s likely your partner may be even more nervous! Giving a complement is a simple way to help your partner feel at ease
Tip 6: Be patient and aware of time.
It may take your partner a bit of time to respond, especially if they have dementia. If you are patient, you may discover something wonderful!
It is also important to be aware of time so that you do not have to end the Visit abruptly. Ending well will go a long way in bringing peace and joy into your partner’s afternoon!
Tip 7: Change the subject or just go with it.
Your partner, especially if they have dementia, may say something that is out of context or doesn’t make sense to you. Best to just go with it and gently change the subject.
Tip 8: Validate negativity and segway to the positive.
These are trying times for all of us. Everyone’s routine has been disrupted and we’re all trying to adapt. Your partner may be feeling negative. The goal is to validate their feelings and then gently Segway to a positive place. For example, “If your partner says, I feel horrible and alone”, you might say “I do too sometimes. What makes you feel happy? For me, it’s being with my friends and since I can’t be with them in person right now, I’m seeing them online – just like you! It feels so good to be here with you today!”
Tip 9: Remember your humor!
Tip 10: Need Help? Engage with the aid who is assisting your partner
Finally, please know that no matter what you do, even if you say something that didn’t go well, you can always try a different route. Just your being there and interested in your partner is invaluable to their mental health and well-being. Helping them to stay healthy is also helping our overburdened hospitals! Thank you!!! 🙂
Sometimes it can be tricky to find things to talk about when trying to connect with a new person. Can you find common ground with your partner? Here are some suggestions:
- Personal History & Experiences. It’s always interesting to learn about a person’s history and experiences. Sometimes it helps someone share if you share with them first. For example, you might talk about your favorite subject in school and why it interests you and then ask them what their favorite subjects are. Or you might share your favorite novel, music, hobbies, places in the world, stories about the people and pets in your life and why they matter, etc. While it is important to be honest, only share what you are comfortable sharing and if your partner doesn’t feel comfortable with a particular topic, then simply move on to another topic.
- The Four Seasons. Asking your partner about their favorite season, sharing your favorites and discovering what makes that season special to them is a wonderful way to connect. For example, you might say “I love the spring! For me, it’s about all of the flowers, people start going outside again, the air smells fresh….oh! but I have the worst allergies too! How about you? What’s your favorite season?”
- Adventure. If you could go anywhere in the world and do anything at all, where would you go and what would you do?
- Celebration and Gatherings. Discuss your favorite holidays and celebrations. When do you gather with friends and family? Why is that special to you? Do you and your partner share any common ground?
- Get Creative! Finally, use your intellect and imagination to come up with other conversation starters!