Too often, parents decide to leave their children at home when they visit a loved one in a retirement community, fearing that the children will be ill-behaved, impolite, or bored. Other parents worry that the residents and staff at the facility will be bothered by their children’s behavior. It is true, of course, that young children can be rowdy and capricious, but never let that stop you from bringing your child to a retirement community. Their vivacious spirit and curiosity will help energize the facility, bringing a smile to your loved one, the other residents, and maybe even the staff as well. If you’re concerned about visiting a retirement home with kids, read on for some helpful tips.
Visiting a Retirement Home with Kids
Visiting a retirement home with kids can be intimidating, but it’s important that you overcome your reservations for several reasons. First, of course, your loved one and your little one will cherish the time they spend together. Time is precious, and you never know how many chances they’ll have to be together. Second, your loved one will likely find great joy in the day and delight in imparting their wisdom on a younger generation. Third, your child will learn something new, whether that’s how to act in an assisted living facility, how to play your loved one’s favorite game, or maybe even a bit of history.
If you’re still nervous about visiting a retirement home with kids, check out these tips to make your visits run more smoothly:
- Discuss the visit with your child beforehand. If your child knows what to expect, they are far more likely to be pleasant and polite. So before you visit, talk to your child about what a retirement community is, what grandma/grandpa likes to do there, what the other residents will be like, the activities you’ve planned, etc. Also, talk to them about what is appropriate behavior in a retirement community (i.e., no running, no screaming, basic manners).
- Bring along tools. Boredom is a common enemy when it comes to keeping children in good spirits, especially when you’re visiting a retirement home. If your visit will be longer than 30 minutes or so, consider bringing along an activity for the group to enjoy together. For example, you could bring books, board games, or a craft project. Or, if your child’s homework involves a subject your loved one knows well, you could have them work on it together. You could also bring a gift for your loved one (something homemade by your children, perhaps) or have your child show them something (their favorite toy, their science project, their violin, etc).
- Ask questions afterward. When the visit is over, ask your child what they thought about the retirement community. Ask them what they learned, what they liked, and how they felt. Tell your child how much the visit meant to your loved one, and talk about the importance of learning from older people. This dialogue should help them feel more comfortable with the experience of visiting a retirement home.
- Make it a routine. If possible, make visiting the retirement community with your children a habit, because people of all ages crave the familiarity and comfort that come along with an established routine. Perhaps you’ll visit your loved one once a week, every other weekend, or on the first Thursday of every month. Ongoing visits will give your loved one specific dates to look forward to, and give your child the chance to develop a connection with their loved one.
In addition, be sure to view our Tips for Visiting the Elderly.
At Hearthside Senior Living Place we welcome all visitors, but children are especially welcome. We suggest that you visit sometime after 10:00 am and before 9:00 pm, so that you don’t interfere with the residents’ personal activities in the mornings and evenings. We understand how important it is for residents to connect with their family and friends, and we strongly encourage you to bring along your kids—they’re sure to liven up the place!
If you would like to learn more about Hearthside Senior Living Place’s eight locations spread throughout the Midwest, please click here.