Tips for Family Visits To Assisted Living Facilities

Category: Alzheimer's | Assisted Living

The transition of moving a loved one into an assisted living facility can be filled with different emotions. For many families, those emotions continue when you plan your first visit to your loved one’s new home. While this is a new chapter in your family’s life, it does not have to be difficult or confusing to navigate. That first visit will often give you greater insight and more comfort in knowing that your loved one is getting the care they need in an environment where they feel supported and cared for.

A family visiting their loved one at an assisted living facility.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at how you can prepare for visiting a skilled nursing facility or assisted living facility.

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What To Bring When Visiting a Family Member in an Assisted Living Facility

A first visit can feel overwhelming. When you visit a loved one in an assisted living facility, you can take some of the stress and pressure off yourself by bringing along a gift.

There’s no such thing as the right gift because all residents are different. However, you want to consider bringing something you know will bring your loved one joy. It can be something as simple as a box of cookies or something more sentimental like a box of photos and other special items.

Some gifts can also be activities you can enjoy with your loved one. For example, a collection of special items, a board game, a meal, or a puzzle are all gifts that can serve as activities. Consider how you would like to spend the day with your loved one and bring along a gift that can also serve as an activity that you, your loved one, and other visiting family can enjoy.

How Often Should We Visit Our Loved One in Assisted Living?

It can feel difficult to find the time to visit nursing homes or assisted living facilities where your loved one lives. However, it’s important to visit your loved one regularly, even if they are receiving the care they need at an assisted living facility. Planning frequent visits allows you the opportunity to connect with your loved one regularly.

Visiting an Assisted Living Facility: Here are Some Activities

When you visit an assisted living facility, there will often be amenities and activities you and your loved one can enjoy together. Common activities include bingo, themed afternoons, reading lounges, and walking grounds. Look into these activities, and speak with your loved one to see if they are interested in them and how they can fit into your schedule when you visit.

If you don’t have any available activities at the assisted living facility, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy with aging loved ones. Consider the following when visiting a nursing home or assisted living facility:

  • Bring a puzzle or board game
  • Chess or checkers
  • Bring a movie and have a movie night
  • Music
  • Gardening activities, if applicable

How To Make Visits With Family in Assisted Living More Enjoyable and Meaningful

Your loved one’s assisted living facility is their new home. Because of this, making every visit meaningful is essential so it is enjoyable for your loved one and your visiting family. Employ the following tricks to make sure this happens:

Understand the Facility Policies and Guidelines

All assisted living facilities have policies and guides to which residents and their guests must adhere. Knowing these rules before visiting ensures everyone has the best experience possible.

Understand Your Loved Ones’ Health Concerns

Understanding your loved one’s health conditions and how you should respond to them is important. For example, if your loved one is living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, they may be experiencing cognitive changes that will affect your visits with them. Knowing how to read and interpret their symptoms or mood changes will ensure you know when it’s a good time to visit and when it’s not.

Bring Along Loved Ones

For many residents, the more visitors, the merrier. If this applies to your family, make it a habit to bring along children, grandchildren, friends, family pets, and other loved ones that you know will bring joy to your loved one.

Interact With the Other Residents

Visiting your loved one will bring them joy, but it will also bring joy to other residents as well. Your presence may remind other residents of their own loved ones, or simply seeing a new face may be what it takes to brighten up their day.

When you visit your loved one, make it a point to interact with the other residents and get to know their lives as well. This will also help strengthen your bond with your loved one, as you will have greater insight into what their day-to-day life looks like and who is involved in it.

What Are Some Common Mistakes To Avoid When Visiting an Assisted Living Facility?

There are some things you should avoid when planning your visit to your loved ones’ assisted living facility. Consider the following:

Work Around Your Loved One’s Schedule

Your life may be busy and structured, but so is the life of your loved one in an assisted living facility. Assisted living facilities generally offer structured and routine services to their residents. Work with this schedule and play your visit during a time when your loved one will not miss out on any other facility’s ongoing activities.

Some Days Are Better Than Others

If your loved one has certain health conditions, the state of their behavior and mental health may change from visit to visit. Be mindful of these changes, and do not take any negative behaviors directed toward you personally. Individuals who are living with health issues that impair their cognitive function may exhibit behaviors like confusion, anger, frustration, and even dissociation from you and other visitors. Keep in mind that this is their health condition speaking and not them.

Ask Questions

You should always stay informed about your loved one’s health and well-being, even if they are in an assisted living facility. Don’t feel shy or out of place getting to know the professional team and support staff; know that you can and should ask questions about how your loved one is doing.

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Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s. (2024).
Participating in Activities You Enjoy As You Age. (2024).
Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Care. (2024).