10 Tips for a Terrific Visit with an Elderly Loved One

Visiting elderly loved ones can be a bit nerve-wracking. What should you talk about when you visit? Should you bring something with you, like photos, or will that cause them undue stress? Should you bring the grandkids along or not, and if so, how should you prepare them for the visit?

Here are 10 tips for a terrific visit with an elderly loved one.

  1. Make them the focal point

The visit is not about you and your emotions. The visit is a way for you to provide your loved ones with relief from their daily routine, and to re-establish your connection with them. Focus on making the visit as fun and memorable for them, based on the activities and conversation topics they enjoy.

  1. Ignore the external changes

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the physical changes your loved one is going through. As they age, their eyesight, speech and motor skills will deteriorate. Don’t get caught up in this, and instead focus on the person they are on the inside, as that still hasn’t changed.

  1. Visit at the right time

Elderly people tend to be most alert in the morning, or after their midday meal. Don’t visit them at a time when they are tired and unable to carry out a conversation with you. Call ahead if you are unsure when is a good time to visit.

  1. Set the tone at the start of the visit

Greet them warmly, and if they are wheelchair bound, get down at their level to greet them. Make eye contact, give them a warm hug and sit close to them if they prefer. Let them know you are grateful to spend the time with them, and not doing it out of any obligation through your actions.

  1. Change how you communicate

Elderly people tend to hear louder, and understand slower. When meeting with an elderly loved one, speak a little loudly (but don’t shout), turn off any background noises, talk to them at their level, and slow your speech down a bit. Also pay attention to your non-verbal cues, such as checking your phone or the time, so as not to make them feel that you’re not happy to be there.

  1. Bring props

Bring along items that may help you have a more enjoyable visit. For example, and old toy, photos, or videos of the family. These can help your loved one feel more involved in what is going on at home, as well as provide you more things to talk about.

  1. Don’t just sit in their room

Take the chance to walk around the facility. Ask them to show you what they like best, and the activities they look forward to. Sit in the garden, or find out if you can check them out for the day for an outdoor visit.

  1. Bring the grandkids

If the assisted living facility allows, bring the grandkids along with you. Prepare them beforehand, and ask them to be quieter during their visit. Encourage them to bring school projects they can show off and talk about.

  1. Bring pets

Check the pet policy at the facility, but if allowed, pets can be a great stress reliever for elderly patients. Bring animals that are calm and can be trusted to sit still while they are being pet.

  1. Keep it real

Don’t worry about going over the top with the visit. Make one or two conversation topics, or props, the focal point of your visit and keep it simple. Your elderly loved one will prefer a short, full of fun, visit over a long and boring one.

Here at Split Rock, we encourage family members to visit their loved ones as we understand how beneficial it can be for their mental health. Check with us about child and pet policies, and about planning the best visit for your loved one.


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