Many people become anxious about the thought of visiting a loved one in an assisted living home. They are afraid it will be awkward, or that they won’t know what to say. But a little awkwardness won’t hurt you, and taking the time to visit them will mean a lot to your loved one. Once you understand how to interact with people in assisted living homes, you may find that the experience becomes easier, and more pleasant.
First of all, just because they are in an assisted living home without a rigid schedule doesn’t mean you don’t have to be respectful of their time. Schedule your visit in advance, at a time that is convenient for them. It shows that you still treat them like an adult, and it gives them something to look forward to. Don’t prolong your visit unless they seem to be enjoying themselves. If they start acting tired or agitated, it’s time to end the visit.
A little planning can help head off the awkward silences where you are unsure of what to do or say. It helps to come up with conversation topics and activity ideas in advance. Ask about their life and encourage them to reminisce and share stories with you. You can bring pictures, books, movies, or games that you can enjoy together. At Arizona Homestead, we have plenty of activities and events—feel free to join us!
Creating a calm environment can make the visit more productive and enjoyable. Try to find a quiet space to talk to each other, without TVs, radios, or other background noise. This may mean meeting in their room rather than in the common space, or taking a walk outside. At Arizona Homestead’s Ocotillo House, we have our Corner Café that is always open for visitors, where you can get coffee, tea, and snacks.
Showing love is also an important part of your visit. Smile warmly, say hello, and make eye contact not only with your loved one, but with the other residents. Allow yourself to be fully present for your loved one. If they are comfortable with it, physical affection is also a great way to connect. Gently hug them, hold their hand, give them a backrub, or whatever else they enjoy.
It’s easy for them to feel estranged from the family when they are in an assisted living home. It’s up to you to help make them feel included. Keep them updated with what is going on in the lives of family members. Share pictures and videos of holidays, sporting events, vacations or other life events. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Sharing those moments of day to day life helps build connections.
Do you have a loved one that may be ready to move into an assisted living home? We have a friendly community with a caring, knowledgeable team. Schedule a free tour today.