5 ideas for assisted living outdoor visits during COVID

After months of being separated from our aging loved ones that reside in retirement communities, visit restrictions are being eased in many states. One or two family members or other loved ones are permitted to schedule outdoor visits with residents. Visitors are asked to follow the usual health safety protocols including temperature checks, symptoms questionnaires, face coverings and maintaining physical distance (approximately 6-8 feet).

It can be challenging to have a comfortable, satisfying visit with all the restrictions in place. It is hard to have a lengthy conversation with face coverings in place – hard to speak and hard to hear. Here are a few suggestions to create rewarding, memorable visits.

  1. Bring an activity that you can work on together and that you can leave with your loved one as a reminder of the fun you had. Adult coloring sheets (you can print for free here) and assorted markers, crayons or colored pencils are popular. Easy jigsaw puzzles can be constructed and saved to do again and again. One fun idea is to have a favorite photo printed and cut into jigsaw pieces. Click here for one source where you can submit photos to be made into puzzles.
  2. Bring a “picnic” snack to share. Keep it simple and easy to eat/drink. Milkshakes are a popular treat or, as the weather gets colder, hot cocoa, tea or coffee will be welcomed too.
  3. Reminisce over old photos, scrapbooks or picture albums that remind everyone of a special occasion, family reunion or vacation. You can create a photo book easily using your phone or tablet an online print service like Shutterfly if you do not have easy access to printed photos.
  4. Create a playlist of favorite music and listen to it together or make a list of songs during your visit for a playlist for your next visit.
  5. If your loved one’s community allows it, bring along a furry friend for your outside visit. If it isn’t possible to bring your pup, cat, rabbit, etc., a cute little stuffed animal might be a fun surprise. You can leave it as a gift for your loved one to snuggle after your visit ends.