As the Baby Boomer generation ages, many of them will spend at least some time in a long-term care facility. If you are an adult child of a nursing home resident, you may struggle to find the right time and how often your nursing home visits should be.
Adult children of elderly parents are often placed in the difficult situation of providing support for both the younger and older generations in their family. Deciding on a realistic visitation schedule to the nursing home and planning activities to enjoy together can help ease the stress for both you and your parent.
Nursing Home Visits to See Your Elderly Parent
As our parents age, it’s natural for their health to begin to deteriorate. You may notice their muscle strength or sense of balance decreasing, as well as memory issues, confusion or other signs of cognitive decline.
These deficits, especially when combined, can lead to an increased risk of injury to elderly parents who live alone. For many adult children, ensuring the safety of their parent requires the 24-hour supervision provided by a nursing home or skilled nursing facility.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may struggle with deciding how often to visit your elderly parent, as well as what to do during these visits. While there is no one right answer for everybody, the following tips can help you choose an appropriate schedule and make the most of your visitation time.
How Often Should You Visit?
Deciding how often to visit a parent in a long-term care facility is often complicated by a myriad of factors. While you may think going as often as possible is best, consider making fewer visits that are of higher quality.
For example, going every day for a few short minutes may not provide as much emotional support as devoting one or two hours a few days each week. Be sure to work out a schedule with the skilled nursing facility staff to avoid disrupting appointments with doctors, social activities or rehabilitation sessions.
Suggestions from Senatobia: Adult children often feel like they have to take on the entire responsibility of making nursing home visits. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, try enlisting the help of family members and friends of your elderly parents. Sharing the responsibility helps to ease your burden, and visits from a variety of friendly faces is a great way to keep your parent’s spirits up.
What Time Should You Visit?
While checking with the staff is always recommended, in general mid-mornings or mid-afternoons typically have fewer scheduled activities for nursing home residents. That does not mean, however, that you need to go at the same time every visit. Senior care experts recommend visiting on different days and at different times.
Varying your visits allows you to become a more effective patient advocate for your elderly parent, too. Skilled nursing staff, rehabilitation specialists and physicians may see your parent at different times throughout the week. Talking with several of them will give you a better sense of the quality and appropriateness of the care your parent receives.
How Long Should You Visit?
Like the other choices we’ve discussed, deciding how long you should spend visiting your elderly parent will depend on your exact situation. Again, simply staying as long as possible is not as important as spending quality time together.
If you live close to the nursing home and can visit regularly, spending an hour together every few days may be right for you. If your nursing home visits require traveling a long distance, spending two or three hours together once a week may be a better option.
What Should You Do During a Visit?
Before you arrive, take a moment to consider the activities your parent may enjoy. For example, check with the nursing home staff to make arrangements to eat lunch or dinner together. Joining your elderly parent during one of the skilled nursing facility’s social activities is another great way to spend quality time.
Bringing a gift like a photo album may spur your parent to reminisce and engage in a heart-felt discussion. If your parent is able to walk or get into a wheel chair, consider having them give you a tour of the facility or grounds. For parents with mobility issues, try playing cards or board games, reading to them or watching a favorite movie or TV show together.
No matter how you spend your time during a nursing home visit, remember that your visit makes a big difference to their emotional and physical health.
Why Senatobia Healthcare & Rehab?
At Senatobia Healthcare & Rehab, we treat your loved ones the way you would want to be treated. Our knowledgeable and experienced healthcare team members have a commitment to providing compassionate care. Owned and operated by the same family since 1978, our award-winning skilled nursing facility provides both short- and long-term healthcare and rehabilitation services. We do this in a homelike environment and family-type atmosphere. Consider us when your mother or father need special care in the Senatobia, Mississippi, area.