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Suggestions for a More Successful Visit

Bring something to do! Have an idea in mind to discuss or bring a project to complete. This gives you a definite time of departure; you finished the project, it’s time to go. If you just ‘stop by’, you may create an awkward situation that no one enjoys. When we visit someone, they are the host and are expected to provide conversation, entertainment, and food or drink. Aging parents may not be in a position to act as host. Instead, you bring the conversation and the food or drink.

Some ideas for a pleasant visit are: 

-         Photos of your parent when they were younger, places they have lived, and pictures of their children, friends, and family members. (Bringing photographs of recent family events or grandchildren may remind them of what they are missing, so these are not recommended)

-         Something short to read aloud such as an article in Chicken Soup for the Soul, a short poem, or a newspaper article. After you have read your choice, then you can spend some quality time discussing it with your parent.

-         Lotion for hands or foot massages, polish for manicures. Older people lose their touch partner; they may go for weeks or months without someone touching them in a loving way. Lotion not only moisturizes their dry skin, it nourishes their need to be touched.

-         Jigsaw puzzles with less than 50 LARGE pieces that can be completed in one visit. The pieces need to be big enough that your parent can see the colors and designs, but not show an infantile picture. Choose carefully and you will enjoy puzzling with your parent.

-         Items that appeal to their senses, such as fresh flowers, chocolate, stuffed animals. Dancing stuffed characters that sing and move are very entertaining to the old as well as the young.

-         Women never lose interest in fashion and makeup! Bring old hats, scarves and gloves to try on and discuss. A bag of many colors of nail polish or lipstick can provide many hours of entertainment.

-         Bring items that pertain to their former, or current, hobbies or interests. If Dad can no longer go fishing, bring some lures to discuss.

 -           Card games and dominoes are fun; invite others to join the game.

         HUMOR is always welcome. Bring funny picture books of animals, or books of amusing poetry by Judith Viorst (see suggested reading elsewhere on this site). Bring the family album and laugh over the pictures. Tell funny stories, read cartoons, recall past humorous events.  A good belly laugh is enriching, both physically and emotionally.

          Living in a facility can be isolating, so the current world situation may not be a good choice for conversation, unless your parent continues to be interested in current events or politics. Try talking about shared experiences or what is visible in the room or from the window.

          Be careful when you ask questions! Even the most well meaning questions can be painful.

*'What have you been doing lately?' (possible answers: had an enema, hooked up O2, argued with nurse, bored silly, nothing....)
* 'Do you remember so-and-so?' (possible answers: ‘Who?’ ‘I don't think so’). Instead of saying ‘Do you remember…..’, just tell the story. If they recognize who you are talking about, good.  If not, don't embarrass them by asking them to admit it.

          People living in a nursing home are not well. Keep your visit short. (Remember the last time you were ill??) Generally, residents are delighted that someone thinks enough of them to visit, but they tire quickly. You will visit more often if you know that the visit does not require a large investment of your time.

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