Making Nursing Home Visits Special

In this post, we will share valuable tips and advice for meaningful nursing home visits with your loved one.

When a Loved One Moves to a Nursing Home

Caring for an aging loved one can involve lots of transitions. A significant transition is the move to a nursing home when care needs become more than other senior living options can support. Your loved one’s move to a new community may come with some big emotions for all of you, but with your regular nursing home visits, your loved one will feel safe, secure, and loved. And you will have peace of mind.

In this guide, we’ll share practical tips and advice that will make each visit truly special. We’ll cover everything from timing your visits just right and deciding how often to visit to understanding the common rules and guidelines to ensure every moment counts. Let’s jump right in!

What is the Best Time for Nursing Home Visits?

A stopwatch lies on a dark slate surface with the words 'VISITING HOURS' written above it in white chalk, symbolizing the concept of scheduled visiting times for Nursing Home Visits.

When it comes to nursing home visits, pay attention to your timing. Nursing homes have their own routines and schedules, and sometimes it’s a good idea to avoid certain times of the day. For example, shift changes can be busy and distracting. Having said that, the best time for a visit is the time that works best for you and your loved one.

Considering Your Loved One’s Daily Schedule

Before planning your visit, find out your loved one’s daily routine. This will help you plan your visit at their most comfortable and alert times. Be aware of mealtimes, medication schedules, and planned community activities they enjoy participating in. Encouraging engagement with other residents is a big plus! Keep their health condition in mind, as certain times of the day might be better for them in terms of energy and alertness.

Finding the Right Balance

It’s important to strike a balance between your loved one’s preferences and the nursing home’s visiting hours policy. Nursing home visiting hours can vary from facility to facility, so be sure to check for specific guidelines. If your loved one has a preferred time for visits, discuss it with the nursing home staff and try to coordinate accordingly. Remember to consider your own schedule as well. Finding a time that works for both you and your loved one can make the visits more frequent and enjoyable.

Understanding the best time for nursing home visits opens the door for special and meaningful visits with your loved one. 

Now, let’s talk about how often you should visit your loved one.

How often should I visit my loved one in a nursing home?

There is no hard-and-fast rule about how often you make nursing home visits. Everyone’s situation is unique, and striking a balance that fits you and your loved one is the most important thing. Here are some factors to consider:

Factors to Consider for Nursing Home Visits

Your Loved One’s Preferences

First and foremost, consider what your loved one would like. Some individuals may enjoy frequent visits, while others might prefer a more relaxed schedule. Open and honest communication is key.

Health and Well-Being

Take your loved one’s health into account. If they have specific medical needs or are going through a challenging period, visiting more often might be beneficial.

Nursing Home Policies

Check the nursing home’s visitation guidelines. They may have specific recommendations in place. Always stay informed about any changes in their policies.

Your Schedule

Consider your own schedule and commitments. Find what works for you. This allows for engaged, quality time together without feeling rushed.

Emotional Connection

Sometimes, it’s not about the number of visits but the quality of time together. Focus on creating meaningful moments during your visits.

Balancing nursing home visits with your loved one can be a thoughtful process. It’s all about finding the sweet spot that ensures your loved one gets the care and companionship they need while respecting your needs and other commitments as well.

In the next section, we’ll talk about understanding the rules for nursing home visits.

What are the Rules for Nursing Home Visits?

Understanding the rules and guidelines for nursing home visits will result in a smooth and fulfilling experience for both you and your loved one. While specific rules are unique to each nursing home, here are some important guidelines to be aware of:

Understanding Visitation Policies

Each nursing home has its visitation guidance and rules in place, which may include specific hours, visitor requirements, and safety protocols. Be sure to ask about these policies before planning your visits. Since COVID, many nursing homes have adopted more restrictive policies. Some may require face coverings, and some may require a health self-assessment as you enter the building. This might feel frustrating, but remember, it is for your loved one’s safety and well-being.

Navigating the rules for nursing home visits with respect and understanding is the best way to create a positive visiting experience for all involved. In the next section, we’ll discuss what to say and how to engage in meaningful conversations during your visits.

What do you Say When You Visit a Loved One in a Nursing Home?

A young woman with a ponytail, wearing a denim jacket, is hugging an older woman with short grey hair, dressed in a floral shirt. They are walking arm in arm down a garden path during a nursing home visit, sharing a moment of laughter and companionship, with the older woman’s back to the camera.

As mentioned earlier, moving to a nursing home can come with some big emotions. Sometimes, it can also change the dynamics of communication between you and your loved one. Engaging in meaningful conversations during your nursing home visits can create a warm and uplifting atmosphere for your loved one. Here are a few tips and conversation ideas to make your visits more enjoyable:

Starting Meaningful Conversations

Begin with a warm greeting and a smile. A hug or affectionate squeeze of their hand will set the tone for a nice visit. Ask open-ended questions that encourage your loved one to share their thoughts and feelings. For example, one of my go-to questions is: “What has been your favorite part of the day today?” This opens the door to a wonderful conversation that you can expand on in so many ways.

You can also share updates about your life and activities. Your loved one will appreciate being included in your world.

The Art of Active Listening

Pay close attention to what your loved one says. Show empathy and understanding by nodding, making eye contact, and offering words of encouragement. Avoid interrupting or rushing the conversation. I can’t stress this one enough! Give your loved one the time they need to express themselves. It’s important that they feel heard. Respond with kindness and validation, even if the topic is challenging. Sometimes, just being a listening ear can provide immense comfort.

Connecting Through Shared Memories

Reminisce about shared experiences or family stories. These conversations can evoke positive emotions and create a sense of connection. Bring along old photos or mementos to spark memories and discussions. This was always a favorite for my father-in-law. Reliving life’s greatest moments always left him feeling happy. Remember, the power of conversation lies in the connection it fosters. Your visits are an opportunity to show your loved one emotional support and companionship. 

In the next section, we’ll explore some activities you can enjoy during nursing home visits, adding extra layers of joy to your time together.

Activities to Enjoy During Nursing Home Visits

An elderly woman with glasses and a striped shirt laughs joyfully as she assembles a puzzle with a middle-aged woman in a black top, who is smiling warmly at her. They are seated at a table in a sunny room with blinds partially drawn, sharing a moment of connection through a leisure activity during a nursing home visit.

Enjoying fun activities during your nursing home visits can bring an extra layer of joy and connection to your time together. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your loved one:

Tailor Activities to Interests and Abilities

Consider your loved one’s hobbies and interests. Whether it’s reading, puzzles, or crafting, bringing along activities that align with their passions can make visits more enjoyable. Adapt activities to their abilities. For example, if mobility is limited, choose activities that can be done while sitting or lying down.

The Joy of Shared Experiences

Play card games and board games. Daily games of Yaghtzee were the norm for my father-in-law. Even when he was not able to understand the game anymore, the simple act of filling the cup with dice and tossing them on the table brought him so much joy.

Spread the fun and engage in group activities with other residents. These social interactions can be highly stimulating and enjoyable. Bring along a favorite book and read together, taking turns or discussing the plot and characters.

Bring a Taste of Home

Share a meal or snack together. Bringing their favorite treats or a home-cooked dish can create a sense of comfort and nostalgia. If your loved one enjoys gardening, consider bringing potted plants or flowers to brighten up their room.

Music and Memory

Music can be a powerful tool to evoke memories and emotions. Play their favorite songs or bring in a small musical instrument like a guitar or keyboard. Organize a small concert or sing-along with other residents. Music can be a wonderful way to connect on an emotional level.

These activities not only provide enjoyment but also help create lasting memories and strengthen the bond between you and your loved one. In the next section, we’ll explore the option of nursing home visits as a volunteer, offering a different perspective on making visits special.

Nursing Home Visits as a Volunteer

A young woman in a blue 'VOLUNTEER' t-shirt is assisting an older woman with white hair, who is using a laptop. Both are focusing on the screen, with the younger woman showing something to the elder, suggesting a learning or assistance session during a nursing home visit

Did you know that you can make nursing home visits even more special by volunteering your time and skills? Here, we’ll explore the benefits of volunteering at a nursing home and how it can enrich both your life and the lives of residents.

Benefits of Volunteering at a Nursing Home

Building Meaningful Connections

Volunteering allows you to form connections with residents, staff, and other volunteers. It can be incredibly fulfilling to make new friends and become a part of the nursing home community.

Providing Companionship

Many residents may not have regular visitors, and your presence can brighten their day. You can engage in conversations, share stories, or simply offer a listening ear.

Enhancing Residents’ Quality of Life

Your volunteer efforts can contribute to residents’ overall well-being. Whether it’s organizing activities, assisting with meals, or helping with recreational programs, you can have a positive impact.

Getting Involved as a Volunteer

Contact the Nursing Home

Reach out to the nursing home’s volunteer coordinator or administration to express your interest in volunteering. They can provide you with information about available opportunities and guidelines. Identify Your Skills

Consider your skills and interests. Are you musically inclined, artistic, or a good listener? Do you have a registered therapy pet? Tailor your volunteer activities to your strengths and passions.

Commitment Level

Determine how much time you can commit to volunteering. Whether it’s a few hours a week or a few hours a month, every bit of your time can make a difference.

Follow Guidelines

Adhere to the nursing home’s volunteer guidelines and policies, including any necessary background checks or training requirements.

Volunteering at a nursing home not only enriches the lives of residents but also provides you with a unique and rewarding experience. My nursing home visits with my therapy dog, Lily, are treasured moments. It’s a wonderful privilege to spread love and positivity within the community while creating cherished moments during visits.

Wrapping it Up

In this guide, we’ve provided practical tips to make your nursing home visits truly special. From choosing the right timing and visit frequency to understanding visitation rules, engaging in meaningful conversations, enjoying activities, and even exploring volunteer opportunities, we’ve covered it all.

Remember, each visit is an opportunity to create lasting memories and strengthen your connection with your loved one. Whether it’s through conversations, shared experiences, or volunteering, may your visits be filled with love, positivity, and cherished moments that bring comfort and joy to both you and your loved one.


Disclaimer: The content on this site is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsible for any decisions made based on this information.

Liz Craven
Liz Craven

Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide alongside her husband Wes, brings a blend of personal experience and heartfelt dedication to her work. Their path in eldercare started with a family story — caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who faced Alzheimer's. This personal chapter not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also ignited their passion to support others in similar situations. Later, Liz and Wes filled the caregiver role three more times for their parents. Through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, Liz offers a mix of empathetic insight and practical advice, making eldercare more approachable and less daunting for families. Her commitment shines through in every piece of advice, aiming to ease the journey for others as they navigate the world of eldercare.

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