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Spicing up Visits with Elderly Loved Ones

Spicing up Visits with Elderly Loved Ones

So many of us grapple with what to say and do with an elderly loved one when visiting. Memory and cognitive impairment can be additionally challenging. My advice is paradoxical – get creative and keep it simple. Here are a few ideas to consider when planning your visit.

  • Start with Fun. My Grandma loved to play bridge. Even when her memory was failing, her ability as a card shark never wavered. Consider what your loved one enjoyed and think of creative ways to share aspects of this during your visit.
  • Stimulate Memories. Yearbooks, directories, scrapbooks, or newspaper clippings can spark wonderful stories and smiles. Reminiscing is a way for your loved one to share their legacy with others – and you might be surprised to learn something new about them!
  • Record It. Make a recording of your loved one reading favorite stories, children’s books, or singing songs that you can share with younger generations. This will be a treasure for those that may be too young to remember these experiences.
  • Work on a Project Together. Consider building a scrapbook or writing memories together. A large-piece puzzle can be an ongoing project you share. The important thing is that you are engaging in an activity together.
  • Consult the Calendar. Check the monthly calendar of activities and select a few to attend with your loved one. Attending a concert, game, religious service or another activity can relieve the stress of wondering what to do and say when you visit. Plus, your loved one will enjoy sharing this experience with you.
  • Play Games. Playing card and board games or tossing a bean bag while talking relieves family members of worrying about new discussion topics and awkward silences. Using our hands can allow us to relax, conversation flows more smoothly and periods of silence are easier to endure.
  • Get Out and About. The opportunity to experience a different environment, even if it’s within a care community, is a welcome activity for most elders. Take a walk through the halls or outside the buildings. Enjoy the artwork and nature that surrounds you at NewBridge.
  • TLC. If your grandmother loved having her nails and hair done when she was younger, consider doing this together while you visit. As we age, dexterity is adversely affected and a steady pair of hands is often welcome. My Grandma never turned down a bonus hand massage when I gave her a manicure.
  • Pet Therapy. Pets have a wonderful way of bringing joy. Even if your visit must be outside the doors of the residence, it will most likely be a meaningful and memorable experience for your loved one to engage with any pet. Contact security for more information about visiting pets.

Make the most of visits with your loved ones by bringing and doing memorable things. Need more ideas? Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale and on the NewBridge campus has experienced social workers. Call us today and we’ll be happy to help with your senior care challenges.

Jennifer Gibbons's picture

About the Blogger

Jennifer Gibbons, MSW, LICSW, is a social worker in long-term chronic care at NewBridge on the Charles. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, sociology and anthropology from Drexel University and a Master of Social Work from Yeshiva University. She brings 20 years of experience in geriatric social work to Hebrew Senior Life. Passionate about working with elders and their families, Jennifer owned a private practice for geriatric care management in Newton. Jennifer has published articles and delivered seminars on aspects of aging at MIT, Northwestern University,...

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