Loneliness and isolation can be serious problems for people living in a nursing home, especially if they are new to the environment or do not engage in social activities. Visits from loved ones are one of the most special aspects of living in a long-term care facility and they help combat feelings of loneliness. Friends and family members who regularly visit residents contribute greatly to improving residents overall health and well-being. Visits from familiar faces reinforce connections between loved ones and lets residents know that they are still a vital part of life, their family, and their social circle. These times are also helpful for visitors to get up to speed about the resident’s daily activities and health.
Although, visiting loved ones in long-term care is important, sometimes it can be an awkward or disappointing experience. If a visitor doesn’t not know how to be a good guest or is unsure of what to do during the visit, it can make for an uncomfortable experience for all parties. Some simple tips can help make nursing home visits easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
- The emphasis is on “home.” When a loved one moves away from their home and moves into skilled care, it can be different for everyone and it may take time to get used to seeing them in another environment. However, it’s important to remember that their nursing home is where they live and to respect it as their home. If you are visiting their room, knock and announce yourself as if you are entering their front door.
- Know what to avoid. When visiting anyone, it is important to be courteous and accommodating. Keep the resident’s needs at the center of the visit and avoid behaviors such as playing overly loud music, swearing and engaging in arguments. Also, if bringing food or drinks, ask the facility staff before giving other residents food, drinks, or candy.
- Learn about visiting times. Before going to visit, find out the best time to do so. Residents who participate in therapy programs often have busy schedules, so try to refrain from going during therapy times. Also, visiting too early in the day or late in the evening should be avoided. Between the hours of 12 to 1:30 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. are ideal times.
- Get involved. There are a number of daily activities and games that residents participate in daily. At our facility, visitors are welcome guests for meals, events, crafts and other activities. It’s always a good idea to check the monthly activity calendar on our website to find out what’s going on the day of a planned visit.
- Respect their roommate. If your resident shares a room, please be mindful of their roommate’s best interests as well when visiting their room. When visiting, don’t talk too loud or visit at hours that would disturb their roommate.
- Go outside. Our facility has several beautiful outdoor areas to enjoy with your loved one. Take a stroll outside or sit on the patio and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
- Celebrate with your resident. Birthdays and holidays are even more special when shared with loved ones. Spread some extra cheer during these times and bring the party to your resident by reserving a room for birthdays or participate in the facility’s holiday celebrations.
- Bring a friend. It’s always great to see a familiar face like a grandchild or favorite pet. Animal visitors are allowed, if they have had their shots and are on a leash.
- Make a care package. A resident may not be able to get out and go shopping as much as they would like. A care package would be a welcome gift and make sure they have plenty of their familiar comforts. Suggested items to include for a care package: books/magazines, games, adult coloring books, stuffed animals, non-skid socks, stationery sets, sugar-free candy or chewing gum, perfume/cologne, fingernail polish, puzzles, snacks, bottled water, gifts cards to restaurants that deliver, music, religious items, and personal care items.
- Keep in touch with an E-Card. Sometimes visiting in person may not be possible due to schedules or distance. Sending an online greeting card or E-Card is a great way to catch up between visits and reminisce. They can also be used to send a resident encouragement or to share holiday greetings.