With the holidays upon us, many of us will be visiting friends and relatives in nursing homes. In order to make the visit rewarding, for you and your loved one, some advanced thought should be put into your visit. I came across this valuable list of recommendations for nursing home visits compiled by Jennifer Davis, on staff at Hebrew Senior Life.
For residents that are alert the following is recommended:
- Keep them connected to the outside world with news about neighbors, family, friends and current events. Talk in a quiet place. Try to be at eye level with the person and speak slowly and clearly.
- Encourage reminiscing. Bring photos or objects to share. Stimulate conversation about past achievements. If your loved one always tells you the same story, accept this. It’s your listening that shows that you still care.
- Sometimes it’s enough to sit and just hold hands.
- Empathize with a relative’s feeling of distress. Don’t try to deny its existence or argue with the resident who may be confused. It only gets the resident more agitated, and causes further loss in self-esteem.
- Don’t use visits to give advice, scold or argue with the resident.
When a relative is too ill to talk:
- Hold hands; provide touch by rubbing the person’s back.
- Sing songs or play tapes of the person’s favorite music.
- If you can, just sit and share being there without feeling like you have to do or say something.
- Get to know staff, other residents and families to make the visit more pleasurable.