Recent data shows that 810,000 people currently live in assisted living facilities. Data also shows that 7 out of 10 people will need assisted living care at some point in their life. If you have elderly parents, chances are they are in a senior living community. This happens when people become unable to care for their daily necessities. Even though this is very common, it can still be a difficult transition. Family members may struggle with this transition when visiting elderly loved ones in these facilities.
Keep reading for helpful tips on visiting senior loved ones.
It is very important when visiting a retirement community to stay positive. You want to keep your focus on your loved ones and engage with them. The first thing you should do is to greet them warmly in the way you normally would. Physical contact is a great way of connecting with your loved ones and reassuring them. You may feel a bit uncomfortable and sad during your first few visits. This is a very natural feeling since it can be hard to see your loved ones growing old. It is important to keep these visits as happy as you can for their sake. If you stay positive, this will encourage you to enjoy these trips instead of overthinking them.
Bring Items With You
A great way to create engagement during senior living community visits is to bring items. Depending on the health of your loved one, it may be difficult to keep up a conversation. If they are in a memory care center, they may have a hard time focusing. This can make it difficult to talk about past memories or things going on in their life. One way to encourage conversation and engagement is to have a visiting bag. You can fill this bag with conversational items like magazines or books you think they would like. You can also bring photos and things that could help to trigger memories. You can also bring up puzzles and card games if they are able to focus on these kinds of tasks. It is also a great idea to bring a present that you know they will enjoy. This is a bright spot in their day and will start the visit off on a positive note. This can be anything from a box of chocolates to a music CD or something else you know they would like. If you aren’t sure, you could always ask the assisted living facility staff for suggestions.
Be Realistic With Time
A common mistake that people make when visiting senior loved ones is the length of time they stay. You may feel pressured to stay for an hour or two to make the visit count. The reality is that this can be quite taxing on your loved ones. Depending on their physical or mental state, they may not be able to converse for that long. As a rule of thumb, it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity. A short but sweet visit is far better than a long but boring visit that no one enjoys. It is a good idea to set aside a few hours whenever you plan this trip. But you should not restrict yourself to any timeline, instead, let the visit flow naturally.
Choose Active Activities
Those living in assisted living may feel like they are left out of family activities. If it is possible, it is a great idea to take your loved one out for a change of scenery. As long as they are able to walk safely, this should be something that you try to do. Changes in scenery is great for mental stimulation, making your visits more interesting. You can take your loved one for a walk in a nearby park or out to lunch. Some assisted living facilities also have outdoor garden areas where you can walk. Even taking your loved one out for a drive in the country is a great way to spend time with them. It takes the pressure off of having to converse, allowing you to enjoy their company.
It is very easy to struggle with patience during senior living community visits. Your loved ones may struggle to talk with you, or they may refuse to do anything when you arrive. Your senior parents may not remember you, or they may not want to spend time together. There are all kinds of instances that can be frustrating during these visits. The most important thing is that you try to practice patience and accept whatever happens. The visit may not go as you had planned, but it can still be enjoyable for both of you.
Bring Others Along
When you visit your senior parents, there’s no reason why you have to go alone. Many assisted living facilities encourage visitors to bring more people with them. The more people you bring, the more engagement you are creating. This helps to keep conversations flowing and makes different activities more entertaining. It is also more mentally stimulating to have more family around at once. Your mother may struggle to interact with you, but she may come to life when she sees her grandchildren.
The top tip for visiting loved ones in senior living is to visit often. It can be difficult to handle this transition after they have lived their entire life independently. You can’t change this reality, but you can help them to adapt. You can do this by visiting them regularly and making sure that they still feel loved and needed.
Assisted Living Tips for Visitors
Visiting senior loved ones can be difficult once they move to an assisted living facility. This is the reality that many families will have to experience at some point. There are many things that you can do to make this transition easier. Including visiting your loved ones as often as you can so that they don’t feel forgotten.
Are you looking for an assisted living or memory care community for your loved one? Contact us today at Inspired Living to schedule a tour of one of our communities.