Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tips for taking your children to visit a grandparent in a Senior Facility

By Bob Gregory

If you have an elderly parent in a Senior Facility such as an Assisted Living Facility or a Nursing Home, you already know how important it is to visit regularly.  I hope you also realize how much it will mean to your elder parent for you to bring along the grandchildren.  Visiting an elderly parent in a Senior Facility can be challenging with children, especially with young children.  Most all Senior Facilities welcome well-behaved children and encourage parents to bring them along.  Children provide such joy to the elderly and it is a reminder that part of each of us lives on through our heirs.

There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your children for a visit to the Senior Facility.  Hopefully these tips will make your visit enjoyable for your parent, yourself and your children—not to mention the other residents.

Tips for taking your children to a Senior Facility:

  1. I hope you had a discussion with your children about why their grandparent(s) moved to a Senior Facility prior to the move.  If not, now is the time to explain why they moved and give them a brief definition that describes the Senior Facility.  Be sure and emphasize the benefits of the Senior Facility for their grandparent(s).
  2. Discuss with your children what they will see at the Senior Facility.  This discussion needs to be tailored to the type facility as there are differences in Independent Living, Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes.  You have been to visit your parent so you should be able to give them a good description.  If your parent is in a Nursing Home, you need to prepare your children to see elderly in wheelchairs, hospital beds and possibly with medical apparatus.
    Matti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  3. Plan your trip to coordinate with the best time of day for your elderly parent and your children as well.  If you have young children, you know how important timing naps, snacks and meals can be to having a well behaved child.  You also want to make sure your parent is up and alert during the visit.
  4. Discuss the visit with the caregivers.  They will be happy to tell you the best time to visit to coordinate with activities or snacks that your children can participate in along with their grandparent.
  5. Remind your children to be polite and respectful.  Children are often very honest and speak their minds—call it as they see it!  You may want to rein that in a bit so as not to offend any resident should your children point out sights they are not used to seeing.
  6. Come bearing gifts.  Presents are a great way to break the ice and children love to receive praise for gifts they make or give.  Encourage your children to make a gift, card or draw a picture.  These are always appreciated by grandparents.
  7. Make the first trip a short trip.  Don’t try to do too much in the first trip.  A short visit to say hello and drop off a goodie basket or a small gift will suffice.  This will give your children an opportunity to size up the place without being overwhelmed. 

Be sure and discuss the trip with your children when you return home.  Get their impressions of the facility and ask them how they enjoyed the visit.  Don’t be alarmed if they have negative comments; it is their opinion.  If they have questions, answer them honestly and give explanations.  Reinforce how much the visit meant to their grandparent(s) and encourage them to make another trip with you in the future.  Point out the positive behaviors they displayed during the visit and be sure and thank them for going with you.  I would also suggest picking up a thank you note for your parent to send to your children for visiting.  This will impress upon your children how much their grandparent(s) valued their visit.  I would also suggest you read my earlier post, Need guidance for visiting your elderly parent in a Senior Facility? as some of those tips apply as well!

If you find you need an Assisted Living Facility, Nursing Home or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider
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Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider

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