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Making Nursing Home Visits Meaningful
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 don’t 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.
Visit with your loved one in the
facility sensory room.
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.
Talk with your loved one about events going on in
the community or family. Don’t assume they can’t
understand. Just hearing your voice will bring
comfort and keep them connected with the outside
Bring their favorite foods and spices for the
visit, but make sure to adhere to the diet
recommended by the dietitian and physician.
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.
On their calendar, take a highlighter and mark
the date of your next visit. This will remind them
that you will be returning soon.
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.
Bring a book of their favorite author and read to
him or her during your visit.
Bring flowers from your garden.
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.
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.
Include children in the visit. Bring things for
the children to do. It could be a children’s book
that the child can read to the resident. If there
are animals or bird cages in the facility, plan your