January 15, 2019

Grandfather and grandson playing chess.
Grandfather and grandson playing chess

If you have a loved one in assisted living, you know how important it is to visit them regularly. Studies show that staying connected with friends and family helps seniors reduce feelings of stress and loneliness, leading to a better quality of life. Researchers also find that having strong social relationships is linked to improved health outcomes.

However, it’s not always easy to know the best way to spend your time when visiting older loved ones. If your visits are becoming too routine, don’t be afraid to try something new! The next time you visit a loved one in assisted living, try out some of these fun and entertaining activities:

Go outdoors

Most assisted living communities have outdoor courtyards or gardens for residents and their visitors to enjoy. Weather permitting, take some time during your visit to walk outdoors together. It’s a perfect excuse to get some fresh air and exercise!

Get pampered

Studies indicate that therapeutic touch can reduce pain, lower blood pressure, improve immune function, and have calming effects. The next time you visit your loved one, incorporate therapeutic touch by giving them a hand massage or manicure. Or, schedule a day of pampering at a nearby salon or spa. Many assisted living communities have barber shops or beauty salons on-site to provide residents with hair and nail care services from the convenience of their community’s campus.

Eat together

There’s nothing better than sharing a meal with the people you love. Your loved one’s assisted living community likely has multiple locations where you can sit and eat a meal or snack together, including community dining areas, on-campus restaurants, or cafés. Plan your visits around a mealtime and enjoy having meaningful conversations over great food.

Listen to music

Music is a powerful way to connect with older loved ones. Create a playlist of your loved one’s favorite songs or watch videos of live performances. If you play an instrument, bring it on your next visit and have a sing-along. Listening to music can be especially beneficial for older adults with dementia because it helps to reduce stress levels and improve mood.

Participate in community activities

Today’s assisted living communities offer a wide array of fun and engaging activities and programs for their residents, including social functions, fitness classes, arts and crafts activities, card and board game clubs, and much, much more! Many communities also have on-site worship services for residents and their visitors to attend together. Remember to call ahead and ask the staff if there are any planned activities you can participate in when you come to visit. It’s also important to call ahead and make sure you don’t conflict with your loved ones daily routine or scheduled appointments. Your loved one’s community can help you determine the best times to visit.