With the holidays in full swing, many people are spending time with family and friends, including visiting with their elderly loved ones who may live in a nursing home or personal care/assisted living community. For a lot of people, visiting with senior loved ones in these environments can create anxious feelings because they are afraid that they won’t know what to say or will have difficulty relating. If you feel this way, it may help to remember that your visit will mean a lot to your loved one and doesn’t have to be lengthy or include non-stop conversation. Most importantly, your visit can be an opportunity for you to bond and create memories together.
If you’re planning on visiting your elderly loved ones this holiday season, you can lessen your anxious feelings by preparing a list of topics or questions that can help with conversation. Here are a few conversation ideas to get you started:
1. Make a Positive Observation – A positive comment or observation can go a long way. This can help to improve everyone’s mood, and may stick with your senior loved one for days. You can comment on their outfit, their mood, their decorations, the weather outside, etc. Making positive comments throughout your conversation can improve your loved one’s mindset and help to generate good feelings.
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions – Asking questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer can be a nice, stress-free way to start a discussion. For example, you can ask about your loved one’s favorite food, their most memorable vacation, what their hobbies are, their favorite season, their favorite movies and TV shows or what makes them happy. Asking an open-ended question can help to break the ice and start a conversation.
3. Read Out Loud – Reading to your senior friend or family member can spark new topics and ideas. You can pick a book or article based on your loved one’s interests, read a passage from it and discuss each of your perspectives. For example, if they like (or used to like) to cook, sharing recipes or articles about cooking can be enjoyable for them. For many, reading spiritual passages can be a comforting way to pass the time together, as well.
4. Ask for Advice – It’s natural for people to want to help each other and feel useful. If there is any advice that you can ask your loved one for, they may want to provide their opinion, which in turn may help to boost their confidence. If you can think of advice you may need in areas where your loved one has experience, such as raising a family, cooking, cleaning or home repairs, feel free to ask them for their opinion during your visit.
5. Look at Past Photographs or Mementos – Looking at photographs or mementos from the past and reminiscing about memories can be a great conversation starter for you and your loved one. If you have any photographs to bring with you, share them. You can ask questions about them and help to bring up stories of the past. Many seniors like to talk about when they were younger, and may even tell you some stories of when you were younger that you don’t remember!
Visiting elderly loved ones in a senior care community can help to avoid loneliness, can strengthen bonds and can create memories that last a lifetime. If you’re anxious about visiting an elderly loved one, we hope that our tips can help alleviate your stress and enable you to have an enjoyable visit this holiday season.
If you are in need of senior care for a loved one, or if you would like to talk through what type of care your loved one needs, please feel free to contact us any time via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571. Or, visit the care levels & services page of our website to learn about the types of care we offer, including In-Home Care, Memory Care, Long-Term Nursing Care, Adult Day Services, Hospice Care and more.
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