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Preschool Education Articles

Visits Top Gift Lists For Nursing Home Residents

Visits top the wish lists of most nursing home residents. But you, and many others, may hesitate to visit someone who lives in a care facility because you are not sure what to do.

Frequent short visits, however, bring immediate joy to those residents with cognitive losses. Coming often helps them because they no longer can retain a memory of your visit. Their emotional well-being receives an immediate boost by having a familiar person sit next to them, hold hands, share a cup of tea or walk with them.

You also might try small-group visits with your nursing home resident rather than have several relatives arrive all at once. People who live in a long-term care facility are often frail; minimize their fatigue by having only one or two people visit at a time. Also, gently remind your elder family member of names and relationships; don't question or quiz.

Remember other residents as you visit your loved one. Many residents don't have family members who can visit them. A smile, a moment or two of conversation, or a shared box of cookies brings extra pleasure to your family member's friends. It also can raise the self-esteem of your family member when he or she can share family visits with other residents.

The facility is an extension of the residents' own homes. While visiting, compliment the surroundings, a special object in your loved one's room, a bouquet in the living area or new carpet on the floor. Compliments help them feel pride in their new surroundings. Also, smile and speak with the staff.

If your family member has always loved games, bring one along, but if your grandmother was a dignified lady who loved to entertain, pretty paper plates with special holiday treats around a dining table may be more appreciated.

Bring a small tape recorder and play some favorite music, or check with the staff to see if you or a grandchild could play a song or two on the piano. Offer to give a manicure, apply lotion, or brush your loved one's hair.

Humor has a healing impact for those in a long-term care facility. Laugh at yourself, chuckle about a funny story from the past or read a joke.

Visits aren't just for the holidays. Feelings of loss, separation, and change make many days throughout the year difficult for residents. Give a gift of frequent visits to your family member or to someone you don't even know in long-term care. Ten minutes from your busy day can reassure, cheer and affirm the dignity of these special family members.

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.

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