Assisted Living Visits for Newbies

Going to visit a family member or friend at an assisted living community? Wondering what to do or say to have a meaningful visit?

Bring a small gift. Assisted living apartments and rooms are small spaces with limited flat surfaces.

  • new door wreath that you make or buy (and offer to store their current one at your home)
  • a framed photo or picture you hang on a wall for them
  • music (CD, IPod Shuffle, uploads to their IPad or IPhone)
  • easy-to-eat, non-perishable, small portion of a favorite food (according to dietary restrictions – if you’re not sure, ask the med-tech on duty)
    an item to make life easier for your loved one like this “grip and grab” tool

Offer assistance.

  • Help sort through junk mail, magazines, greeting cards and offer to re-purpose/recycle items
  • Check that television and remote control are working properly; here’s a way to make the remote control easier to operate.
  • Offer to trim fingernails or give a manicure
  • Give a gentle hand or neck massage (arthritis hurts!)

Engage in an activity.

  • Play cards, checkers, IPad game apps
  • Look through a photo album together
  • Listen to stories that your loved one enjoys sharing (even if you’ve heard it a million times, be kind and make one million and one times ‘cause you’ll  be old one day, re-telling your own stories)
  • Make a memory box together

Be your loved one’s advocate!

  • Check that your loved one is clean (hair combed, teeth brushed, recently shaved, matching and appropriate clothing, no body odors)
    and, if not, alert staff
  • Check the dirty clothes hamper (overflowing? Strong odor?) and alert staff if you don’t like what you see/smell
  • Check that eyeglasses, wristwatch, walker, hearing aids, dentures, etc., are being worn or are in the room
  • Ask if hearing aid batteries need to be changed
  • Check that bathroom, bed sheets, carpet are not soiled and room smells clean
  • Disposable briefs, hand lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, razors, chux. (If yes, coordinate with primary family caregiver to order/deliver.)
  • Use a black Sharpie marker to mark every personal belonging with name, room number, etc. Name labels are a neat option too.

Allot enough time in your visit for your loved one to walk you to the lobby, door, car, etc. Good-byes are hard. End your visit on a good note.