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Get Over Feelings That Prevent You From Visiting the Nursing Home

26 Comments

i just lost my husband,instead of zitting at home i want to go out and do something. someone suggested talking to a lonely elderly. How and where to i start and where to start.

I sympathize with those who have trouble visiting extended family in the nursing home. I often feel guilt over not taking my mom to see her sister more, but realistically I can't think of any way I could have made those visits with her go any better. Poor auntie could barely speak above a whisper, even I had difficulty, and my mom has low vision so could not use any visual cues, often she didn't know my aunt was trying to speak at all. Compounding the problem was the lack of privacy, a bed bound room mate kept us from venturing to her room, and when sitting in public areas we had to contend with the moans, groans, nonsensical babbling and noisy oxygen tanks of other residents, not to mention those who wanted to join in on the conversation! My aunt was a very private person and the idea of just sitting quietly and holding her hand was unimaginable to me at the time.
We hopefully gain wisdom as we age, I can now see things I could have done to make visits easier on all of us. If you are not an adept conversationalist going with a group of three or four would allow you to talk without having to totally carry the conversation alone. Inviting extended family to special events and group activities could help them become more comfortable with the environment and allow visits without forcing one on one contact on those that are feeling shy and unsure of how to react. And yes, today I think I would be able to just sit and hold her hand.

Thanks for sharing this article. When my mom had to go to a nursing facility, I really did not want to have to do it, but was blessed with a wonderful place (it had some days where the smell wasn't too good, but not many) - and I told myself that I would go as often as possible no matter what because I may be in a place like that some day. The staff was great, engaging, helpful and the list goes on. Everyone has to do things we don't like, but once it's done, most things turn out better than we thought they would. Thanks again.

It is an uplifting article dealing with an often thought negative phenomenon. I wish I could send this article to others/family members who do not visit my mother in the nursing home. My in-laws live literally 4 blocks from the nursing home my mother is. They have decided that the nursing home depresses them so they will not visit. When my mother was well, they had a loving relationship with her. How could people become so selfish as to allow their fears to prevent them from doing the right thing to a 'loved' relative. Visiting is not about them. It is to comfort the dying or ill. The person still has feelings and needs. Love is not supposed to be restricted to supporting someone when they are well.

I think this article is right on. Thank you for sharing. My Mother is in one and I am very happy with the care and human touch they provide.

This article is great with lots of ideas on how to communicate with our loved one. My father had Alzheimer's Disease, he was very stoic but I knew he loved the outdoors, I would show him pictures out of outdoor magazines, he loved it. Another time when I visited, I could not get him to communicate, he sat with his head to his chest. After 30 minutes, I kissed him and told him I was leaving and would be back in a couple days....as I walked away I heard "Don't go!" I sat back down with him and we communicated for about 20 before he dozed off again with his head to his chest. That 20 minutes extra minutes was well spent while we were able to connect. It also broke my heart to realize he knew I was there but was unable to pull himself out of his world. Thank you Carol for a great article.

It would be nice to have a "how to visit through the stages" guide somewhere. It's easy to visit mom when she can talk and interact.

It's awkward and strange feeling to visit with someone who sleeps through your visit or who can no longer communicate. I end up feeling like a lump who is taking up space and wonder if anybody is getting anything out of this. Then I remember when I was little, we'd go "visiting" after church on Sunday. People don't do this anymore and we've lost the art.

We'd drive around until we found somebody at home, and then "set a spell". I remember being told to sit still, don't touch, don't walk around, don't talk. Sometimes long periods of no talking would occur in the adults' conversation. You could hear the clocks ticking. If I were able, I might nod off or try to sneak in some book-reading. But to the adults, they were OK with these long silent lulls. We are not, but we can be.

I watch what other families do. Some of them have a non-verbal loved one, and they can just sit and one person does all the talking about the past. Or just things they saw on the ride over. It's not a philosophical debate about big issues.

Others just sit & hold hands.

Some are just next to each other, and nobody talks. You can't be a way that you aren't, and if you aren't a talker, you don't need to become one. Heck, my grandparents spent the greater part of the 1970s & 80s silent next to each other on the sofa, like they were posed in a painting. That's just natural and OK for some people.

I stay as long as mom is calm. I try to time my visits so there is a natural transition point for her that lets me go without so much fuss. E.g. I will visit before a meal time, so that when it's time to eat, I can get her setup at the table and then go when the food is served, or sit while she eats and then go when the table is cleared. It's much less disruptive this way.

I think it's OK to just "be" together as long as it's not agitating.

I can sort my mom's clothes when I go visit. This is something that has not ever caused her to get upset (so far) and she enjoys in her own way seeing all her things. I rehand them in the closet one at a time, and "take away for dry cleaning" the things that are too bad to keep wearing. They just don't ever come back and she doesn't remember.

I have found on Youtube, old home movies people have posted from the time period when mom was an unmarried girl (early-mid 1950s rural NC). She loves to see these, to see a time when things were better than now.

My friend was placed in an assisted living facility. The trouble with visiting is that I no longer understand his speech. His words are slurred and low and he falls asleep. I'm really not sure how to visit someone in this shape. When he asks me something I don't understand, so I just smile. Can someone recommend anything?

What a wonderful and meaningful article.

Earlier this year, I launched GoldenReviews because I believe we can improve senior care by providing invaluable insights that improve seniors' lives.

Nursing homes are usually a taboo subject, so the majority of families and residents simply do not post senior care reviews online.

To tackle the issue, we proactively seek out families’ and residents’ experiences with assisted living and nursing home providers.


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People have looked at me when I mentioned, if you have time please go vist your family member... Regardless if it's an Aunt, Uncle, Grandmother, or Grandfather, Etc....They are still a family member.... It is sad when I hear no-one visits them since people seem to be so busy in their tied up little lives...Wait until you get old and the same thing happens!! Remember the conversations are about the past, the future is confusing to them. Enjoy each and every moment and learn something besides worrying about nothing...