Creating Meaningful Visits at the Nursing Home
Nursing home residents can often lose the ability to communicate. This can make families decrease visits to the nursing home because they don’t know what to say or do. Sometimes, just being present can be satisfying. Here are some tips to create the most meaningful visit next time you go to see your loved one.
Planning a Visit with a Loved One in Long-Term Care
- Know your loved one’s schedule. Visit your loved one at a time of day that they are least tired and not busy with therapy sessions they may have.
- Talk with staff beforehand. Ask staff for some tips and guidance on the best times to visit, what to expect, some ideas of things you can do together, and how to make the most of your visit.
- Stay updated with family. If you know other family members who are visiting, you can create a schedule or system for when each of you visit. You can also update each other on changes or important information.
- Put aside any guilt or fear you may be feeling. Sometimes people don’t want to go to the nursing homes because getting older is a reality they don’t want to face, or they have guilt about not caring for the loved one. However, you do need to deal with these feelings and move past it. You could miss out on quality time together.
- Make the visit about them. Use the tips below for ideas on how to make it a visit focused on your loved one.
What to do When Visiting the Nursing Home
- Prepare for the visit ahead of time. Bring items of interest with you. For example; if your loved one had a love of pets, you could bring your family pet to visit. If he or she had a love of a certain kind of music, bring a CD to play while in the room.
- Talk with your loved one about events going on in the community or family. Don’t assume they can’t understand. Just hearing your voice will bring comfort and keep them connected with the outside world.
- On their calendar, take a highlighter and mark the date of your next visit. This will remind them that you will be returning soon.
- Personalize their room. Now is the time they need the most stimulation. Look at how you can make their room pretty while at the same time reflecting their personality. You could put up sports banners, add family photos, etc.
- Bring a book of their favorite author and read to him or her during your visit.
- Provide hand massages and back rubs. Oftentimes, the only touch they receive is by the facility staff. Having a massage can be really uplifting, especially when being touched by a loved one.
- Include children in the visit. Bring things for the children to do. It could be a children’s book that the child can read to the resident. If there are animals or bird cages in the facility, plan your visits there.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh and share humorous stories. Bring funny cartoons and funny stories to share. It’s ok to laugh.
- Get to know the staff. Find out what’s new about your loved one.
- Share a meal with them. Many facilities allow families to purchase a meal and eat with the loved one in the dining room.
- Go for a stroll together. Nothing is like a visit outside. Many facilities have lovely patios.
- If your loved one is able to take a drive in the car, go on short outings.
- Bring games they enjoy, cards, checkers, chess, word puzzles.
- Begin a project that you can work on each time you come. For example, if they loved to garden, you could begin a flower press book and dry the flowers. Once they are dried, you could make a collage together and hang the picture on the wall.
- Exercise with them. There are several video tapes for elderly in wheelchairs. It could be simple arm lifts, walking or hand exercises.
Let your loved one express their feelings and accept them. They just need someone to listen. You don’t have to have all the answers. Your presence is present enough. Make your visits joyful and pleasurable. If interested in more tips for a meaningful visit, check out: caregiver.com