Making the Most of the Moment
Visiting an elderly parent, family member of friend in long-term care can be a challenge if the timing is wrong or there isn’t any privacy. With a little advanced planning, the experience can be rewarding for everyone.
Tips for Visiting in Long-Term Care
- Plan your visit according to the resident’s schedule – find out ahead of time when meals are served, when showers may be in progress or when the senior may take a daily nap.
- Many facilities have a private dining room where family can join the resident for a meal – plan ahead and make a reservation.
- If there is a musical performance or other activity the senior may enjoy, plan to join them.
- If the weather is good, look for an outdoor space and bring a picnic lunch or tea. Most facilities have a garden area.
- Find out about bringing a pet for visit if it is well trained. This can lift the spirits in the worst of weather.
- Don’t visit if you are unwell, elderly are very susceptible to illness.
- Let the senior know if there are going to be any changes or if you will be late. Waiting can create frustration and disappointment.
- Take your cue from your parent or loved-one. Let them know if they are tired, you will come again another time.
- If you are visiting from out of town, several shorter visits can be more successful than one long stay. Ask if they need anything such as toiletries or clothing items.
- If possible, plan a short outing. Keep it simple to avoid tiring an elderly resident.
- If a visit in person is not possible, write cards or notes. Provide resident with long-distance calling cards to make phone calls.
- If you bring gifts or flowers, remember space is often limited and keep gifts small in size.
- Offer to bring long-time friends to visit as well.
- Always acknowledge and thank staff members when appropriate.
- Find out when a doctor may visit regularly and try to attend if the senior needs a health advocate.
Good communication between staff, residents and family is essential for a successful stay in long-term care. Start off on the right foot with a positive attitude toward the move.