People avoid things that are uncomfortable. Visiting a loved one in a nursing home is something that many people dread. However, humans are social creatures; we need interaction and touch to thrive. Your visits are incredibly important! So what can you do to make your visit more enjoyable for everyone? Try these tips to get started:
Act normally! Treat your loved one the way you would have before. Respect their time and space. Try to call ahead and let them know that you are coming. Receiving phone calls and being treated in a dignified manner is very important to well-being.
Share a meal with them. Again, please try to call ahead. Check with the community to see if there are scheduled meal-times, and if there is a cost for family members to join residents for an evening. Or, bring a favorite dish to share (do keep dietary restrictions in mind). If your loved one has trouble swallowing, the dietary department may be very happy to help you puree or thicken foods so they can enjoy a family recipe for a change.
Go for a walk! Walking and aerobic exercise are EXTREMELY beneficial for older adults. For older adults with cognitive deficits, exercise can slow disease progression significantly. Explore the halls, walk to the activity department, or get outside if weather permits!
Participate in activities they have always enjoyed. Does your loved one like to watch movies together, play cards, write letters/emails/texts, or share photographs of special events? Keep these traditions alive as much as possible. Routine is comforting. Even if your loved one has memory concerns, they still enjoy being included and feeling connected.
Talk to them and touch them. Hold their hand, brush their hair, tell them how much they mean to you or talk about things you remember. You can always read stories, poems, or scriptures to them as well.
Consider LifeBio Story Cards. If your loved one has permanently moved to a community, consider purchasing LifeBio’s Story Cards. Each card has an open-ended question that helps your loved one reminisce, and connect to their past, which makes your conversations much more fun. You can make it a game with the whole family, or talk about one or two questions per visit.
LifeBio makes the reminiscence process simple. We offer a variety of life story products, including the About Me Booklet, our exclusive LifeBio Snapshot, the LifeBio Story Guide, the Veteran’s Story Guide, Memory Journal, Story Cards, as well as our website, app, and full service book printing. Contact us at 1-937-303-4576 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get started today!
Amber Dennis is a staff writer and personal biographer for LifeBio, where she helps record personal histories. Before working for LifeBio, Amber worked for a number of years in customer service, and also worked in nursing homes and home care as an STNA. She holds a BA in History from Otterbein University.