Visiting your loved ones in their nursing home helps keep family bonds strong. Few things bring as much joy for an elderly relative than visits from their grandchildren or great-grandchildren, but the experience can also be tiring and stressful if it isn't handled correctly. These tips will help you make the most of these visits with your children so everyone is happy and content.
Tip #1: Set Expectations
It's imperative that your children know that a nursing home isn't like visiting other homes, especially if they used to visit Nana or Papa at their old house. Explain to your children that behavioral rules are a little more strict – no running or yelling in the hallways, for example, because there are other residents nearby.
You will also want to make sure your child understands that there may be medical equipment, if not in their relative's room than in use in some common areas. If you have a shy child, prepare them for the fact that residents they don't know may talk with them, and help them develop a coping strategy for the new faces they may meet.
Tip #2: Prepare for Boredom
Many nursing homes are quiet places, not necessarily a good fit for the average active child. While the adults may be content to sit and visit, children need something a little more engaging than just conversation to stave off boredom. The best strategy is to bring along something to do with their relative – favorite board or card games, decorations for the room (especially if the visit coincides with a holiday), simple craft activities, or a book to share all work well and help strengthen family relationships.
If the visit is a long one, have an adult take the children for a walk or to an outdoor area to play. Sometimes, just being able to burn off energy without worrying about the rules inside the nursing home helps alleviate boredom.
Tip #3: Bring Snacks
It's no secret that a hungry child is a cranky child. Some nursing homes are equipped for visitors, with snack machines. There may even be a snack bar, soft serve ice cream machines, or a small cafe available, depending on the services in the home. In this case, a visit to one of these can provide a necessary snack and alleviate boredom.
If snacks aren't available or you are unsure of the services, bring a few favorites with you. Opt for snacks that won't leave behind too many crumbs or a sticky residue, though. You don't want to leave behind a mess. You can contact a nursing home, like Regina Nursing Center, for more information on available amenities and rules for visitors.