Visiting the elderly is beneficial

Use These Tips To Eliminate The Hesitation And Worry About Visiting An Elderly Loved One

Pegasus provides home care for a variety of individuals in Eagle Rock and elsewhere. We understand that family and friends may feel hesitant about spending time with their loved one. We’ve collected these tips to help make visiting the elderly more enjoyable for everyone.

Your loved one may be in a nursing home, another facility, or a hospice rather than receiving home care. Or they might be receiving our hospice care in their home rather than in a facility. Although the circumstances are different, the basics of a pleasant visit apply.

Accept That Your Visit Can Be Emotionally Difficult For You

Spending time with a loved one that is ailing is difficult emotionally for many people. The challenge is even greater if the individual has dementia or other cognitive impairment. Avoid beating up on yourself for your feelings.

Visiting someone who might be near the end of their life may remind you of your own mortality. You may also feel grief at seeing the deterioration in the health of a once-vigorous person. You will have to deal with those feelings, but you must put them aside while visiting.

Another source of reluctance in visiting an elderly loved one is worry about what to say. You’ll rarely go wrong in telling someone how much they mean to you. Experts say that most people incorrectly assume that their loved ones know how much they care.

Guidelines For Visiting The Elderly

Although everyone is different, consider the following guidelines for spending quality time with your elderly loved one:

  • Preparation
  • Sensitivity
  • Communication
  • Connection
  • Delight

There’s overlap in the suggestions, and not every tip is relevant to every visit.

Plan Ahead

Preparation:  Many individuals have a daily routine. For example, if they’re receiving home care, they don’t want visitors at bath time.

Call ahead to arrange the best time to visit. Some individuals are receptive to morning visits, but others prefer afternoon or evenings. Dropping in unannounced can turn what should be a good experience negative.

If your loved one is physically able, consider planning a little excursion. That could be as easy as sitting in the garden for a while. Going for a ride can provide a welcome change of scenery for someone who rarely leaves home.

Ask about bringing children or pets to visit. Youngsters and animals can be uplifting but only if your loved one wants to see them. Surprises are not good.

You also need to prepare mentally, especially if your loved one is cognitively impaired. The visit won’t help them or you if you walk in depressed.

Sensitivity: Remember that you’re visiting someone who probably can’t get out or enjoy the things they used to do. They may have difficulty with mobility. Perhaps they don’t hear or see as well as they used to.

Put yourself in their place. The consequences of aging might make you grouchy or irritable regardless of someone else’s good intentions. Cut your loved one some slack when nothing you do or say pleases them.

Communication: Start the visit with a positive note by smiling and identifying yourself. Even individuals who are not cognitively impaired can forget someone’s name. Make eye contact.

If your loved one doesn’t mind physical contact, greet them with an appropriate touch or hug. Respect their personal space, even if it’s different with each visit.

Avoid starting conversations with “do you remember,” especially with someone who is cognitively impaired. Encourage them to tell you their stories, but avoid pressing for details.

Be aware of your body language. If you’re always glancing around, you’re conveying impatience. Try to listen respectfully even if you’ve heard the same thing a dozen times during the past few minutes.

Conversation can be difficult enough in even the best of circumstances. Background noise can make it nearly impossible. Coax your loved one into turning off the TV during your visit, or schedule your visit for another time.

Connection: One of the reasons for visiting the elderly is to connect with them. It means you have to adjust to them. You will need to enter their world.

Individuals with dementia or other cognitive impairment don’t necessarily lose all ability to interact. There is still a person inside who can respond. You can try stimuli such as humor, music, or looking at a photo album.

You can discuss things from the past, but try to do so in a positive way. If they don’t remember, move on. Mention something current in which you think they have an interest.

Delight: Your visit should brighten your loved one’s day. If it seems appropriate, bring a small gift with you. Your best gift, however, is giving them your undivided attention and spending quality time with them.

Don’t rush your visit, but don’t prolong it either. Oftentimes, several brief visits mean more than one lengthy visit. Your loved one may tire quickly, so stay alert to signs of fading energy.

Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Part of our home care services in Eagle Rock and other locations is companionship. We are here to provide the level of care customized to meet your loved one’s personal needs.