When we invite people into our lives with an in-person visit, it can be a bit overwhelming, intimidating, uncomfortable, and exciting all at the same time. Sharing space with someone that we do not usually share space with can present unique opportunities and challenges. The person being visited may believe they should plan to do something special for the visitor. It is also possible that the visitor has a similar sense of obligation or feels the need to offer something more than just their presence.
Here are six engagement options to consider for more successful visits:
1. Offer to Show the Visitor Around Your Place
This could be a small walk around a room, around the house, around the yard, around the neighborhood, or even around town. It provides both parties with things to see and talk about.
2. Play Games Together
Consider what you and your visitor might enjoy having fun doing, and pull together the necessary resources prior to meeting. It may be a tabletop game, a sports activity, or maybe a brain game. If you both agree, consider a group gathering first to take the pressure off of a more intimate one-on-one interaction. If you enjoy a one-on-one connection, then consider what you can do so that each of you is experiencing moments of pleasure and satisfaction. Keeping it friendly should feel right, not overly complicated. If there is too much effort on either person’s part, then it may be time to switch gears and transition to another option.
3. Provide an Interactive Gift
The gift can be something to look at, talk about, or do together. For instance, select a construction or craft kit that is within your scope of comfort. Or, create a photo album that contains images of interest that offer possibilities for connections, enjoyment, shared memories, or conversation. It can be as simple as a sheet of images, a small booklet, or a tabletop book or magazine. Other ideas might include flowers in a bundle that can be cut and arranged, potting items that can be placed on a windowsill, or seeds and containers for planting. Consider the interests and abilities of all involved, so that the gift is enjoyed as much as possible by all parties.
4. Connect Around Food and Drink
Gather together to share sustenance and fellowship. Whether it’s a full meal or simply a cup of tea or coffee, it allows us the comfort of doing many things with our eyes, our mouths, our senses, our interactions, and our bodies. It doesn’t have to be about consumption. It could involve the preparation of the space, the items to eat or drink, or it might simply involve the actual sharing of the meal. Maybe serving others or cleaning up provides a sense of purpose in connecting.
5. Look Around and Enjoy the Scenery
Pick a spot and sit. Watch kids at play, a sporting event, dogs in a park, or flowers in bloom. Consider taking pictures or videos to review when you are in your home space – an additional opportunity for pleasure and connection.
6. Get Out and Move
Take a hike, walk, a stroll, or even a drive. Explore what you see, hear, feel, or smell. Get an energy boost by getting active, based on your ability. Blood flow helps brain flow, and it also helps connections and communication. Moving physically can lead to movement in other ways.
Consider trying one of these six possibilities for successful visits.
Successful Visits - Consider the P. I. P. E. S. Acroynm
Also, when engaging with others, consider the P.I.P.E.S. acronym:
- Sustain or Switch Skills
A little preparation and knowledge can often go a long way in improving engagement interactions.
Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, is a world-renowned dementia educator and founder of Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care®. This organization provides education and resources for those living with brain change, caregivers, and the general public.