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Visiting Residents in Long-Term Care

Tips for Enjoyable Family Visits

Tammy Retalic, RN's picture
Visiting Residents in Long-Term Care
Visiting Residents in Long-Term Care

Visiting a loved one in a long-term care setting can be an opportunity to check in and reconnect, but it can also be stressful, especially when the situation is new and family members are still adjusting to the change.

At Hebrew SeniorLife, we tell families that the most enjoyable visits are ones that don’t have specific agendas. It’s often best to let their loved ones take the lead and decide how they would like to spend the time together. For residents living with dementia, it’s important for their visitors to embrace the moment and meet them where they are on that particular day.

Consider the following tips before your next visit:

  • Check in with staff when you arrive. This is not only for safety purposes, but an opportunity to be updated on your family member and learn what kind of day they are having. Staff members can also suggest activities or ways to spend your visit if you have any concerns.
  • Although you may have many questions for your loved one about their new setting, be aware that a visit focused on asking them may inadvertently create anxiety. Patients living with dementia can’t easily recall information from the present and this can be a source of frustration, detracting from a pleasant visiting experience. 
  • Bringing an old photo with you can be a great way to spark memories and conversations about the past – something dementia patients can do easier than discussing the present. It can also be a great opportunity for family members to learn something new about their loved one and connect in an unexpected, but fun way.
  • A visit doesn’t have to revolve around constant conversation. Bring a favorite book to read out loud together or watch a movie. Simple companionship can be just as enjoyable.
  • Don’t hesitate to see their new community in action and accompany them to programs offered, such as dance or music therapy. It can a powerful experience for family members to see their loved ones thriving and one I highly recommend. 

Learn more about long-term care at Hebrew SeniorLife. 

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Vice President of Nursing and Patient and Family-Centered Care Services for Hebrew Rehabilitation Center

Tammy Retalic is the Vice President of Nursing and Patient and Family-Centered Care Services for Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, Boston. She has nearly 25 years of health care experience and spent the past eight years at Hebrew SeniorLife working with the organization’s leadership team, employees and seniors as the Director of Professional Development, Infection Control and Occupational Health. She works closely with the Quality and Regulatory Affairs team to guarantee HSL’s clinical quality standards are achieved. Prior to joining HSL in 2004, Retalic worked at Marlborough Hospital in...

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