Things to do When Visiting Elders

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When an older adult in your life has limitations, you may struggle to think of ways the two of you can spend your time together. Some people may reduce or avoid making visits to elderly friends and family members altogether because they feel it will not be productive, or are afraid of awkward moments.

Whether the older adults in your life live in a home, an apartment, an assisted living residence or skilled nursing center, they can become lonely and yearn for visitors. If you are planning on paying a visit, it’s a good idea to come equipped with fun activities or talking points to make the best of your time together, and put a smile on their faces.

Here is a list of things you can do when visiting:

Catch up: Simply chat about the things you both have been up to since you’ve last seen each other. He or she will love to hear what you have been doing and will appreciate your interest in his or her life.

Bring updated photographs: They will enjoy seeing recent photographs of you and other family members, specifically ones they don’t get to see often. You can also bring photos and souvenirs from recent vacations, day trips, or shows you attended.

Talk about old times: Sharing your favorite memories together will bring you closer together and make them look back fondly on the happy moments in their life.

Bring messages from friends and families: If other friends or family members cannot visit in person, bring letters or video messages from them.

Read aloud: Either take turns reading aloud or read to the person you are visiting. Older adults who have vision problems and have difficulty reading will especially appreciate it.

Bring prepared food, or make a meal together: If your older adult has trouble cooking intricate meals, he or she may not have a well-rounded diet or may be missing some of the food they used to eat. Bring them food you prepared or bought, or help them cook a meal you can enjoy together. You can try a new recipe you think they will enjoy, or prepare a dish they used to make.

Listen to music: Play them music they used to listen to or something new you think they will like. Listening to music may spark some memories or topics of conversation between the two of you.

Watch TV or a movie: You may not always feel like talking, but there are other things you can do.  Sometimes, simply watching TV or a movie together can qualify as quality time, as you enjoy each other’s company.

Try a craft project: Bring supplies to try an activity like painting, knitting, or various other craft projects. Be mindful if they have challenges seeing or using their hands — you don’t want to choose an activity that will make them feel frustrated.

Pamper your older adult: As people age, they may have difficulties taking the extra steps in grooming themselves. To make them feel special, you can do their hair, nails, or massage them with lotion.

Bring a pet to visit: Animals can lift the spirits of almost anybody, so bringing a pet to visit can surely brighten their day.

Take a walk: Exercise is very beneficial to anybody, but it can be especially valuable for your older adult. Walking will strengthen older adults and help them maintain independence and mobility. Walking can also lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and help prevent some cancers. Walking can help decrease anxiety and depression, and just a short walk will immediately boost a person’s mood. If your older adult has trouble walking, sitting outside or taking a car ride can have similar mood-boosting effects.

Take advantage of scheduled activities: Does your elder live in assisted living or another type of senior living community? Check the community’s calendar to see if there are any events going on you can attend together. Alternatively, you can attend an event at a local senior center.