It can be stressful to do something for the first time, whether it’s your first day at a new school, your first flight, or your first time visiting a loved one in a retirement community. Not only do you not know what to expect, but you also truly want the experience to go well. If you’re feeling anxious about stopping by a retirement community to see the seniors in your life, don’t be. In all likelihood, you will have a great time and your loved one will thoroughly appreciate the fact that you took time out of your schedule to pop in and say hello. To improve your experience, check out our tips for visiting the elderly below.
Tips for Visiting the Elderly
Time your visit carefully. First, check with the retirement community to see if they have recommended visiting hours (most do). Then, ask your loved one when they would prefer that you stop by. If you arrive too early, they may be busy with personal activities. If you arrive too late, they may be sleepy and distracted. Many seniors enjoy visitors during or after a meal, from mid-morning to early evening. Let your loved one know in advance when you will be stopping by.
Give your undivided attention. To make the trip worthwhile, give your loved one your undivided attention. Greet them warmly, make frequent eye contact, turn off your phone, and hug or kiss them when you say goodbye. You may need to adjust your communication style as well, perhaps speaking slightly louder than usual or moving to a quiet area.
Bring props. Some people feel a sort of “performance pressure” when visiting seniors and find continuous conversation difficult. If this sounds like you, you might find it helpful to have props handy. For example, you could show your loved one photos or videos (new or old), share something you’ve created (art, music, a school project, a work accomplishment), bring a gift (food, hand lotion, a framed picture), or play some of their favorite tunes.
Do an activity together. Similarly, you may enjoy your visit more if you can complete an activity while you interact. The activity can be simple (eating dinner together, playing a game), or it could be quite involved (a craft project, a workout class).
Focus on quality, not quantity. Don’t hesitate to make a short-and-sweet visit. Some people assume that every time they visit, they need to stay for an hour or two to chat and catch up. In fact, there is no ideal visit length. Take your cues from your loved one, and don’t feel bad about stopping by for just 20-30 minutes. A pleasant half hour filled with conversation and connection is far better than a lengthy, tiring visit. Plus, any visit is better than no visit at all!
We hope these tips for visiting the elderly have inspired you to stop by and see the seniors in your life. A simple visit truly can brighten someone’s day, so if you have some extra time in your schedule, stop by the retirement community and say hello to your favorite senior.
Looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living of Collierville. We always welcome visitors, especially during our visiting hours: 10am to 9:00pm. If you’re interested in learning more about our community or scheduling a tour, please give us a call at 901-651-2503 or click here. We look forward to hearing from you!