Today I Learned...
- Preparation and planning in advance is key to making your visit with your loved one's more intentional
- Keeping your loved one engaged is a vital part of creating visits more meaningful
isiting a nursing home can be a tough experience.
If your loved one is in a state of decline, you might feel uncomfortable or unsure about what to do. But it doesn't have to be that way! With some extra preparation and planning, you can make your next visit more meaningful for both of you.
Prepare for the visit ahead of time.
I know that it's important to visit loved ones in a nursing home, but it can be hard to know what to do once you get there.
Here are some ways to prepare for your visit:
- Ask the nursing home staff for the patient's schedule. This will help you plan your visit so that it's in line with their activity schedule (if they have one) or when they're most likely to be alone and alert.
- Try visiting during mealtimes or other times when family members aren't around so the patient has more personal attention from you. You'll also learn how long visits last at these times and how best to set up your own visits on similar days.
- Bring a photo of yourself and the patient together. If they don't remember who you are, this will help them connect with their past.
Talk with your loved one about events going on in the community or family.
A great way to connect with your loved one is by discussing upcoming events in your family or community.
For example, you could ask them about their favorite memories of family members who have passed away. Or, if there's a child on the way or another new baby in the family, ask them what they think of becoming a grandparent. You could also ask about upcoming community events happening in their nursing home. Ask what they're looking forward to and plan to go to an event with them!
Bring their favorite foods.
This is a great way to bring back memories! For example, if your loved one's favorite dessert is chocolate cake, make one and bring it with you when you visit. Or if they love cookies from a certain place, take them there. Taste is a good way to evoke past memories or positive feelings.
Reminisce about past life experiences.
The next time you visit a loved one in a nursing home, consider asking them about their childhood.
Here are some prompts/question you can ask:
- Did they have any pets?
- What were their favorite memories growing up?
- Did they have siblings?
- What books did they read as children?
- Were there any movies that your loved one enjoyed when they were young?
- Was there one dish that was a favorite of theirs as a child?
- Did your loved one play any sports when they were young?
- Did your loved one enjoy music or play an instrument back then (or still do)?
On their calendar, take a highlighter and mark the date of your next visit.
On their calendar, take a highlighter and mark the date of your next visit! This will give them something to look forward to and they'll always be able to check when the next visit is. Try your best to keep your visits at the same time or day of the week (or however often you visit). A routine will help your loved one know when to expect your visit and give them something to look forward to each week or month!
Bring a book from their favorite author.
Reading is a good way to pass the time and it's a great way to spend time together!
If your loved one is a fan of a particular author, bring them their latest or best book. They'll love the fact that you took the time to go out and get it for them. Sometimes people can feel left out because they don't have many friends or family members around at all times. This gift will help remind them that someone cares about them and wants to spend time with them.
Personalize their room.
The room of a loved one in a nursing home can feel sterile, which is why personalizing it can be so important.
One way to do this is with plants. A plant brings color and life into the room, and most plants don't require much upkeep, meaning your loved one won't have to worry about doing anything but enjoying the view! Or you can bring them flowers! Flowers can make a room more lively, inviting, and comfortable. Learn more about house plants.
Another way you can personalize their space is by putting up pictures around the room. You could bring in photos of family members or pets that remind them of happy times together. This makes an especially nice gift if you're visiting during an important holiday!
With these steps, you can help make visits more meaningful.
We hope this article showed you some ways to help your visits with loved ones be more meaningful and significant.