One thing that brings joy to a resident is a visitor. The purpose of visiting is to provide social, physical, spiritual, or intellectual stimulation to someone living in Long-Term Care. It can be a difficult situation for both care recipient and visitor. The resident misses familiar surroundings and routines. It can be difficult for a visitor seeing a loved one or friend with diminished capacities, but the visit brings so much to the resident, whether they provide you with evidence of this fact or not. I was only told later that often my father would ask for me, or my late mother. Even if communication is difficult you are making a difference in their loves. For seniors who have lost older family members and similarly aging friends, seeing someone they love and have known brings a great deal to the difficult routines of daily life in Long-Term Care.
When visiting friends and family in Long-Term Care there are many things you can do. It is a time to share memories and celebrate a life well-lived. Having a chat and reflecting on the good old days can be a positive event. Phone ahead and plan an activity or a meal with care recipients in LTC. Many activities occur in LTC and you can help a loved one or friend better participate in the process. You can take them a hot meal that you can eat together. It is a special treat to break bread with those you love. It shows that you honour their spirit and their life.
Find photos of familiar people and places. Looking back over shared experiences brings much joy. While it is hard to recall what you ate the day before, often distant memories are more clear for those whose bodies fight illness or old age.
Take in newspapers, magazines, or talking books. Go to a book store and find a book or a magazine your loved one might find interesting. Read it to them. Often small talk is difficult. Simply listening to someone read is a relaxing, gentle time of sharing.
If they are able, take a deck of cards or a board game. Take them out for a trip or a walk, if possible. If they had hobbies try to find something that they can do with you. Some LTC homes now have a Wii. It has proven to be a great stimulant for those unable to participate in regular physical activities. It provides an approximation of particular sports: tennis, bowling and golf. It can be a fun way to interact with a senior incapable of some of the physically demanding entertainments.
Buy them a guest book and sign your name, write them a message, or write a message for their loved ones who may need your support. When dementia sets in, it is the caregivers who most need you and your time and energy.