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Family visits

Q. I am the manager of a hostel and relatives often come to take their family member who has dementia home for the day or out to a café or for a day trip. This seems like a good idea but the resident often comes back distressed and takes days to settle down. What should I do?

A. This is a common problem in low level aged care homes in which we find many people who are physically robust but cognitively impaired.

Relatives need to be informed about the nature of the cognitive impairment and the limitations this places on what the elder can reasonably do or cope with. If we educate them about the nature of dementia we have a chance to prevent these disturbing episodes that affect the entire home community.

Residents with dementia need routine and predictability. It is often better for them if the relative spends the time in the elder’s environment rather than taking them into a strange and stressful environment. Taking them out makes the relative feel better but may be disturbing for the resident.

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