As the holidays approach, visiting friends and family residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is a top priority for many. The visits, while strongly recommended by those involved in health care and aging, are sometimes very emotional. We highly recommend that visitors plan ahead to ensure that the time spent together is as rewarding as possible for both the residents and their visitors.

Please consider the following when visiting a friend or loved one in any type of facility:

How to get the most out of a visit:

  • Check the visiting hours beforehand. If your schedule does not allow you to visit during regular hours, contact the facility to schedule a visit. Do not show up unannounced or just “drop by.”
  • Call ahead to the facility to ask if the resident needs any personal items, clothing, or other necessities.
  • Arrange a time when the visit will not interfere with meals, medications, or scheduled activities.
  • Let the facility know if you want to share a meal with your friend or relative.
  • Inquire about pet visits and restrictions. Many residents have roommates who may be allergic to animals.
  • Children of all ages are generally welcome. Young children rarely react negatively to long-term care or assisted living residents, but teenagers and older children may need time to adjust. If children are sick, it is best to leave them at home or postpone the visit.
  • Specialized care units may have different visiting hours and regulations. Always call first.
  • Consider including the resident in holiday meals at home and other outings.
  • Due to the vulnerability of your friends, relatives, and other residents, please refrain from visiting if you are sick or have flu symptoms.

Enjoy your time with your friend or loved one and consider engaging in activities that are both stimulating and productive. Remember, this can be beneficial for both of you and most importantly, the short time you spend will be cherished for a long time afterward by the resident.

Things to do when visiting:

  • Attend an activity at the facility together.
  • Take a walk, either inside or outside.
  • Watch a favorite TV show together.
  • Read to your friend or relative from a favorite book or magazine.
  • Share memories or work on a photo album together.
  • Write letters or cards together. As people age, handwriting becomes more difficult and less legible. Help write clear addresses on postcards or envelopes.
  • Take photos and record either on video tape or audio, your friend or loved one’s remembrances. You will look back on these moments and cherish them.
  • Support his/her ideas and decisions.

If you are visiting for the first time, give yourself a chance to adjust. The surroundings may be perceived differently by you than they might be for your friend or relative who lives at the facility. If you would like to know what to expect or if you have any questions or concerns, you are encouraged to reach out to the facility’s manager or administrator. You can find out more information about our licensed healthcare facilities on our licensing website.