It’s not uncommon to feel unsure or anxious about visiting an aging loved one in a senior care community. It can be challenging to know what to do or say, even when that person is a beloved family member. Some residents lose the ability to communicate or struggle with hearing or vision loss. Others are living with chronic health conditions, which cause them to dose off throughout the day. Memory deficits can present other challenges, especially when your loved one’s mood is unpredictable. What’s most often challenging is watching your aging loved one decline in health.

Not knowing what to do or say can cause some families to decrease their frequency of visits. However, families can once again create meaningful moments with their aging loved one with a bit of preparation. Here are five tips for more meaningful moments in a senior care community.

Call Ahead

Make the most of your next visit by calling ahead. Although it may seem as if your loved one doesn’t have much going on, it’s possible that they may not be ready to receive impromptu visitors. They might be getting a shower or busy at the hair salon. They might have had a bad night and aren’t up for visitors. If you don’t already have a regular time to visit, call ahead instead of just showing up. This gives your loved one time to get dressed for your visit. It also alerts the care staff so they can ensure your loved one is ready and looking their best.

Visit Earlier in the Day

Most older adults feel their best earlier in the day. They’re more well-rested and more likely to be in a good mood. This is especially true if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Persons with dementia are susceptible to sundowning; they experience increased agitation, confusion, anxiety, and disorientation as the sun begins to set. As much as possible, plan your visit between breakfast and lunchtime. If you do visit in the afternoon, visit after your loved one has had a chance to take a short nap. Above all, consider when your loved one feels their best and plan to visit them then.

Bring Printed Photos to Share

Before your visit, take the time to print a few photos to share with your loved one. While most of us have thousands of photos on our phones, your loved one may not be able to see your screen as clearly as a printed photo. During your visit, let your loved one peruse through the photos while you share more details of the photograph. Let them keep the photographs to enjoy after you leave. They’ll love having something to share with other residents and staff.

Plan to Participate in a Group Activity Together

If you’re at a loss of what to do during your time together, take a look at the facility’s activity calendar. Most care facilities offer a wide range of activities throughout the day. Many activities are family-friendly, meaning you can join alongside your loved one. This is a great way to get your loved ones out of their room and help them meet new friends, especially if they’re new. If nothing’s happening during your visit, move your visit to a common area, where there are often games and puzzles for everyone to enjoy.

When In Doubt, Reminisce

If you find yourself quickly running out of conversation topics after the first few minutes, turn to reminiscing. Reminiscing is very therapeutic for older adults, especially those with memory loss. It’s also therapeutic for family members, as they get to hear more about their loved one’s life. Ask open-ended conversations to start instead of yes/no questions. There are so many topics you can reminisce about, from favorite family vacations and holiday traditions to childhood memories and seasonal activities. To enhance this experience, utilize photo albums or special souvenirs your loved one has in their room to spark more conversation.

Senior Living Solutions is here to support you, and your aging loved one as you make decisions about your loved one’s care. We are the only senior-living consulting agency that’s based in Arkansas and operates locally. Our mission is to relieve the stress and ease the burden of finding the best senior living options for our clients. We do this at no charge to you. If you’re considering alternatives to nursing home care for your aging loved one, let us help guide you in finding which place is most compatible with your loved one’s needs and personality. Please get in touch with us today by calling 501-650-3013.