Often residents living in assisted living facilities or memory care units can feel lonely and isolated. They fear that connections with friends, family, neighbors and relative may be cut off. You can ease these fears by visiting your loved ones regularly.
It may be challenging to visit at first. If your loved one is suffering from memory loss, it can be painful when they don’t recognize you. Some loved ones may be feeling anger or frustration about needing to move. While conversation may be difficult or it may seem that your loved doesn’t want you there, these visits are still very significant to their health and well-being.
Planning you visits in advance can ease some awkwardness and tension. Bring family photos, pictures of recent events or even videos of sports games, theatre performances or band concerts of relatives. These items will help your loved one feel included in family life and are excellent conversation starters. Bring old family photos and ask your loved ones to identify individuals, dates and events. You may get to hear great stories and memories. You may also want to bring games that your loved one enjoys. Cards, checkers, and chess, are all excellent two-player games. Bring a special treat that your loved one can look forward to. You could even read a newspaper, magazine or book together.
Try to determine the best times of day to visit your loved ones. Some residents may feel more awake and ready for conversation in the morning, while others enjoy evening visits. If you had a routine, such as morning coffee or Sunday dinner, before your loved one moved, try to maintain the same schedule. This can bring a sense of familiarity to their new home. Keep track of the facility’s schedule. Don’t expect your loved one to spend one on one time with you if there is a fun event happening that they were looking forward to. You can attend social events with your loved one or schedule visits when they aren’t happening.
Bring children with you. Young kids, toddlers and preschoolers, are surprisingly generous with their affection and are typically not easily intimidated. Your loved one and every other resident will enjoy the energy and even noise that a young child will bring to an assisted living facility. Older children may need more preparation for their visit, but both parties will benefit immensely from interacting. Bring a game, or give your child some ideas for fun questions to ask. You may even want to provide a recorder or video camera to help you child capture stories of significant family memories.
It may be hard to handle when the conversation turns negative, but it is important to listen to and respect your loved one’s concerns. Remember that your loved one may miss their home or have difficulty adjusting to their new living situation. Don’t let any feelings of guilt or blame keep you from talking about these important emotions with your loved one. If there are any major concerns, feel free to report them to the staff or even the management.
Most assisted living facilities allow residents to come and go as they please. Take your loved one for a fun outing. You could go out and do everyday errands that your loved one needs or go for a special dinner, concert, or event. Your loved will enjoy getting out and about with you.
Short and Sweet
You may need to keep your visits short at first. Caring.com suggests that you leave after a short, meaningful, positive conversation. Then no one feels pressured to keep the conversation going and your loved one feels cared for and will look forward to the next visit.
Stick With It
You may not get your visits exactly right every time. Sometimes they may feel forced, awkward or even sad. Remember that even when your visits don’t go smoothly, it still shows your loved one that you care. It will help them feel more connected and valued when you take moments out of your busy schedule to spend quality time with a loved one. The more you visit, the more life-giving your visits will become for both you and your loved one.