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Making Nursing Home Visits Meaningful

By Sandra Stimson

(Page 1 of 3)

Oftentimes, as nursing home residents decline, they lose the ability to communicate. Sadly, this is a time when families stop visiting as often because they donít know what to say or how to make the visits meaningful for the family, as well as their loved one. Sometimes, just being present can be satisfying.

Here are some tips for the families.

  1. Visit with your loved one in the facility sensory room.

  2. Prepare for the visit ahead of time. Bring items of interest with you. For example; if your loved one had a love of pets, you could bring your family pet to visit. If he or she had a love of a certain kind of music, bring a CD to play while in the room.

  3. Talk with your loved one about events going on in the community or family. Donít assume they canít understand. Just hearing your voice will bring comfort and keep them connected with the outside world.

  4. Bring their favorite foods and spices for the visit, but make sure to adhere to the diet recommended by the dietitian and physician.

  5. Reminisce about past life experiences. Bring in old family photographs. They may enjoy just listening to your memories. If they are able to respond, this may spark a memory.

  6. On their calendar, take a highlighter and mark the date of your next visit. This will remind them that you will be returning soon.

  7. Personalize their room. Now is the time they need the most stimulation. Look how you can make their room pretty while at the same time reflecting their personality. You could put up sports banners, add family photos, put pictures on the walls, a CD player at bedside with favorite CDs, plants, decorator pillows and pretty afghans, knickknacks that are meaningful to them, lotions and perfumes or colognes, fake fish tanks (real ones if someone can take care of it), wind chimes over the bed. 

  8. Bring a book of their favorite author and read to him or her during your visit.

  9. Bring flowers from your garden.

  10. Try aroma therapy. You can purchase candle warmers and electric aroma therapy machines. Use smells that they would like, but be aware that medications can make them nauseous. Light scents such as lavender may be preferred.

  11. Provide hand massages and back rubs. Oftentimes, the only touch they receive is by the facility staff. Having a massage can be really uplifting, especially when being touched by a loved one.

  12. Include children in the visit. Bring things for the children to do. It could be a childrenís book that the child can read to the resident. If there are animals or bird cages in the facility, plan your visits there.


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