Mustering up the willpower to visit your loved one in a nursing home can be a little challenging. Nursing homes have a bad rap when it comes to soliciting visitors. Oftentimes people complain that nursing homes smell bad, or that it is depressing to see so many elderly people in poor health with not much time to live. Loved ones often feel pangs of guilt for not visiting their family members in nursing homes and then experience more guilt for loathing the idea of visiting. There is no better time than the holidays to show your loved ones how much you care.
Like most things we dread, the prospect of visiting the nursing home is much worse than the actual process of doing it. More often than not you feel extremely gratified after visiting loved ones, and chatting with other residents truly lifts their spirit and consequently yours as well.
If you still need more of an incentive to visit your loved one, think of your visits as checkups to make sure that your loved one is in good hands and satisfied with his or her care. You can view your visits as a way to improve your loved one’s life in the nursing home, making their experience that much more enjoyable. By having a mission to accomplish with each visit you will begin to feel like your visits have a purpose and that you are using your time constructively.
- Come prepared with questions when you go visit your loved one. Allow them to reminisce on the life they led and regale you with stories from specific incidents. Ask your mother or father about their wedding day, about their profession, about their proudest moment, the list goes on and on. We often view our parents as entities that have existed as long as we have, but they had an entirely different life before you were born. Ask them about their life prior to your existence and about the incidents that occurred when you were too young to remember.
- Bringing old family photo albums and/or music from your loved one’s prime are also ways to get communication flowing. Photo albums are especially significant among people with dementia, who can often recognize childhood faces even if they can’t remember the person standing in front of them. It is also a good idea to find out what kind of music your loved one liked to listen to. Bring in cds or your laptop to play songs that they will enjoy. Their whole mood will change once they hear an old favorite they haven’t listened to in years.
- While at the nursing home you can also take the time to make sure that your loved one is being properly cared for. How fast does the staff respond to accidents or clean up spills? You can monitor how your loved one is being cared for and view how others in the facility are cared for as well. Confirm that the rooms have medical alert buttons like LifeFone, to ensure that help responds immediately.
When contemplating visiting your loved one in the nursing home the best motivation may very well be to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes. One day you may be living in a nursing home and you will want visitors. You will also appreciate it if your loved ones check up on you to make sure you are well cared for and happy. Next time you feel a sense of dread in regards to visiting the nursing home remember how good it actually feels to see your loved one and how satisfied you feel after you leave.