It was a beautiful August day. Jean Perry was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her granddaughter. At age 19, Emma was able to drive to see her grandmother in her assisted living community. Ever since she had obtained her drivers license, she would make the trip to the community every Friday after school. And now that it was summertime, she could come more often. Emma loved doing things with Grandma. They had been close for years. As the door burst open, Jean welcomed her granddaughter with a big hug. It was these moments that she lived for. It was great to see other seniors at the assisted living community, but visiting with her only granddaughter Emma brought her that sunshine and energy that kept her going the rest of the week. Today they were going to have lunch together and then Emma was going to paint her nails. A sparkly red was the color they had agreed on. As Emma set up for the pedicure, they chatted about daily life. Grandma always gave Emma words of wisdom and advice that she would treasure for years to come.
Visiting an assisted living community to see an elderly family member or friend is one of the kindest things you can do. But what to do while there? Many assisted living communities and nursing homes offer seniors plenty of activities and social opportunities. Seniors can thrive in these environments. Still, family will always remain the most important factor in their life. The joy you can bring to them by a simple visit is priceless. Here are some ideas to help you plan a visit.
Going out to breakfast. Or lunch! Seniors love going out to eat. It doesn’t matter if you always take them to the same place. Being in a different environment and choosing their favorite meals off a menu is exciting and fun for them. Eating together gives you the chance to talk casually or even just connect silently as you sip coffee and ponder life together. Try to find a restaurant that they will enjoy. The food they are used to. Make sure the restaurant can accommodate any of their special needs such as a wheelchair. Bring along a pillow for hard chairs to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Then, just have fun and enjoy the meal together. Greater Denver has so much to offer in terms of restaurants. You’ll find just the perfect place. Even if it is just a meal at your loved one’s senior living community!
Visit during Covid-19 restrictions
Visiting a nursing home or senior in an assisted living community may be a challenge during Covid-19 restrictions. While senior communities do all they can to ensure elderly residents are not lonely, there is still something you can do to brighten their day – long distance visits. These days with technology you can set up virtual “visits” using apps like FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp for video-chats. Talk to staff at your senior’s community or their caretakers and see how you can ensure your loved one is set up with an iPad or laptop to accommodate these virtual visits. Regularly connecting with an elderly family member will give them something to look forward to and keep you connected. You’ll remember these moments for years to come (and they will too!).
Parks. Check to see if there is a park nearby, botanical garden or beautiful nature spot for both of you to enjoy. Being outdoors is refreshing and inspiring. Make sure the outing will accommodate their needs. Walking too far may not be an option. Benches are always welcome for breaks needed. Even if your elderly family member is in a wheelchair, being away from home for too long can become strenuous for them. Try to find just the right time frame for them. Colorado has plenty of outdoor opportunities to enjoy nature! Arvada is no exception.
Church. Offer to take a senior to church with you. Or find out if they have a church they would like to attend and go with them! Sharing a Sunday morning with an elderly family member or friend can be very meaningful. Many seniors love being part of the community they spent years building. You can combine church with breakfast or coffee. This gives you something weekly to do together as well. You will both begin to look forward to Sunday mornings together! If your senior is not able to leave their assisted living community or nursing home, check to see if there is a chapel opportunity within the community.
Sharing an activity. If leaving the assisted living home isn’t an option for your loved one, there are plenty of things you can bring to them. Check the nursing home or assisted living community’s rules on visitors and see if you can accompany a resident to activities or events within the community. If your loved one is in memory care or diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, perhaps you can find out how you can be of assistance with daily exercises and care. Grandma may really appreciate it if you help her with a manicure. Everyone likes to feel beautiful. Print out some pictures to give your elderly family member and bring them along. You can also set up a little slide show of pictures to show them so they can see family, friends and old places. Seniors love pictures. Everyone does!
You can bring a senior so much joy by remembering them and being there for them. Even if you can only spare half an hour one week, sit with them and chat for a few moments. Hug them. Let them know you are thinking of them. Connecting on a regular basis is key. Keep an eye on Covid-19 restrictions and precautions as they can change quickly. You may need to keep in touch virtually at times. Your senior will feel loved and have a sense of security.