May 23rd, 2011 at 10:44 am
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Creating a meaningful nursing home visit

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

Visiting a loved one in a nursing home can mean a lot. How often have you heard a friend or family member express concern about going alone? When older adults have problems with hearing, vision, speech or memory, there may even be more of a reluctance to visit. The Ideas Institute created an informative booklet–”IDEAS for A Better Visit”–to help people have a more enjoyable visit with a friend or family member who is living in a long-term care facility.

Seven tips for visiting others

Here are a few of those suggestions for visiting others in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities:

  1. Call ahead. Take the time to call ahead to discover the best time to visit. Do not make the first visit very long and plan on taking someone with you.
  2. Turn off the television. If the person has a hearing problem, turn off the TV or radio and close the door to the room.
  3. Show you care. When a person is tired and/or not up to talking very much, show you care with a gentle touch or a few extra smiles and sit quietly together. In some cases, it might be helpful to bring along a photo album to share some stories.
  4. Think about conversation starters. Conversation starters might include talking about an accomplishment or some upcoming plans. Try to keep the discussion upbeat.
  5. Reach out to others. For a quick visit, assist the person in phoning a friend or sending a card or note. Just stopping by to say hello is usually appreciated.
  6. Prepare children for visits. Talk to children or teens about what to expect. Watch young children and keep them out of others’ rooms. If children are sick or irritable, keep them at home.
  7. Keep a record. If the person is confused or has memory loss, it is possible they might not remember the visit. Write your name on a desk calendar with the time you or others visit and something you did. Doing so can be a helpful strategy, depending on the person’s level of functioning. Those who visit later will have something to refer to in their conversations.

Preparing for visits: a daughter’s example

One daughter visited her mother nearly every day, and she decided she wanted to create a meaningful activity they could look forward to doing together. She bought a bright bag to carry some things her mother enjoyed–depending on her mood or interests on a particular day. Her mom used to play solitaire, so there was the deck of cards. Someone usually had a birthday or needed a get well wish, so the bag contained a variety of cards in the bag for any occasion. Her mom loved chocolate,s so her daughter had some of her favorites packed for both of them. She also had a disposable camera so she could take pictures in case they did something special. Her daughter made sure the best pictures ended up in the album in her mom’s room for others to enjoy when visiting.

Posted in Caregiving, Nursing Home, Support | 2 Comments »
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2 Comments to “Creating a meaningful nursing home visit”

  1. Kaye

    Thanks for sharing your great idea. It makes so much sense. I am sure that your friend and the others really enjoyed the experience as well. This is particularly helpful to consider when a lot of family is in town, especially for holidays and special occasions. Instead of having many people at once, which can be overwhelming, each person can have a more meaningful time together. All the best ~ Kathryn

  2. What great ideas! Another one I discovered on my last visit to a friend in a care facility. If an activity time comes up while you were there, don’t assume you need to leave. Ask if they would like you to stay and participate. I was able to and we both thoroughly enjoyed some easy crafts and games for the seniors who lived there along with myself and a couple of other visitors. Very delightful!

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