Making the decision to move your parent into a nursing home is difficult. You want them to get the care they need, but you also worry about how they’ll adjust to their new living situation. One of the biggest questions that arises is how often you should visit them in their new home.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The right visiting frequency depends on your parent’s needs, your own schedule, and what works best for your relationship. This guide will walk you through all the factors to consider when deciding how often to visit your parent in a nursing home.
Emotional Importance of Visits for Your Parent
Visiting your parent regularly has huge emotional benefits for them. It’s a chance to provide companionship, boost their mood, and ensure they still feel connected to family.
Reducing Loneliness and Isolation
The transition into a nursing home can leave your parent feeling lonely. Their social circle shrinks as friends pass away or become unable to visit. Your visits give them human interaction to look forward to.
In fact, research shows nursing home residents who get frequent visits experience less loneliness and social isolation. Your presence reminds them they still have loving bonds in their life.
Boosting Mood and Self-Esteem
Your visit becomes a high point in their week. The friendly face and attention from a family member they adore does wonders for lifting their spirits and self-esteem.
Studies reveal nursing home residents with regular visitors have higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction. So your caring company directly improves their quality of life.
Maintaining Family Connections
As your parent ages, it means so much for them to stay linked to family happenings. Visiting allows you to update them on milestones like births, weddings, graduations, and more.
Hearing family news gives them a sense of inclusion. It reassures them that they’re still an important part of the family unit, even if they can’t be there in person.
Monitoring Emotional Health
When you visit, observe their demeanor for signs of depression or anxiety. Look for changes in mood or sociability that could indicate emotional troubles.
Your perspective can alert nursing home staff to potential mental health issues. Frequent visits allow you to advocate for counseling, medication adjustments, or other interventions.
Considerations for Your Parent’s Health and Care Needs
Visiting regularly helps you monitor your parent’s physical health and care they’re getting. This oversight ensures issues don’t slip through the cracks.
Identifying Changes in Physical or Mental Health
Check in on how they’re feeling physically and mentally each visit. Ask if they have new aches and pains or feel more fatigued. See if their thinking seems fuzzy.
Declines could indicate a medication needs adjustment or health problem needs attention. You can discuss concerns with their doctor.
Communicating with Nursing Home Staff
Build a relationship with staff members through your visits. Learn care providers’ names and discuss your parent’s needs.
Two-way communication ensures excellent care. Staff share facility happenings, while you offer insights on your parent’s health and personality.
Advocating for Proper Medical Care
Speak up right away if you have worries about your parent’s treatment. Kindly voice concerns to the nursing director. You can request care conferences to align on a plan.
Your involvement verifies your parent gets medications and therapies for their conditions as well as preventive care like flu shots.
Ensuring Adequate Hygiene and Nutrition
Check that your parent looks clean, groomed, and odor-free. Their clothes and sheets should appear fresh. Look for signs of weight loss or dehydration.
Declines could mean they need help bathing or reminders to eat and drink. Discuss providing additional hands-on care.
Logistical Factors for You and Your Family
When deciding how often to visit your parent in a nursing home, logistics like your schedule and location also matter. Evaluate realistic frequency.
Your Proximity to the Nursing Home
If you live nearby, it’s easier to stop by more frequently. But if long distances separate you, visiting weekly or monthly may be more realistic.
You could also organize a rotating schedule where family members take turns traveling to see your parent. This prevents any one person from bearing the brunt.
Your Schedule and Availability
Of course, obligations like your job, kids’ activities, and other commitments eat into your time. Be honest about what’s feasible without burning yourself out.
Don’t feel guilty if you can’t visit multiple times a week. Your parent will understand you have your own life activities and responsibilities.
Other Family Members Helping with Visits
See if siblings, your parent’s spouse, or other relatives can also visit occasionally. This allows you all to share the duty and eases pressure.
Collaborate on a calendar so you know who plans to visit when. Try to avoid overlapping so your parent has steady contact.
Alternative Ways to Stay Connected from Afar
If you live far away or have limited time, use technology to stay in touch between visits. Schedule video calls to see each other face-to-face and hear your voices.
Send cute photos by text or email so your parent feels involved in your family’s daily life. Mail handwritten letters or care packages frequently too.
Creating Meaningful Visits
It’s about quality, not just quantity when visiting your parent. Make the most of your time together by planning engaging activities you both enjoy.
Respecting Your Parent’s Preferences and Boundaries
Ask your parent when they prefer to have visits and how long works best. Respect their private space within their room.
If your parent seems tired or distracted, keep the visit short to avoid overtaxing them. You can always come back another day.
Planning Activities and Engaging Experiences
Get creative with fun things to do together! Bake cookies, work on puzzles, look through old photos, play cards, or watch a favorite movie.
Outings like going outside for fresh air, getting ice cream, or sitting in the garden make a nice change of pace too.
Being Present and Giving Full Attention
Don’t just visit your parent and then look at your phone the whole time. Give them your undivided attention. Really listen and have meaningful conversations.
Simple gestures like eye contact, laughter, and affection reassure your parent how much you care about them.
Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Family News
Bring a cake or balloons to celebrate your parent’s birthday in their nursing home. Update them on family joys and sorrows since your last visit.
Sharing these details makes your parent feel loved and that they haven’t lost their role in the family.
Nursing Home Rules and Policies
Get familiar with any regulations or protocols the nursing home has around visitors. This avoids any issues when planning visits.
Typical Visitation Policies
Most nursing homes allow visitation at any time rather than certain hours. But some may limit total visitor numbers due to space constraints.
Ask about requirements like signing in and any policies around gifts, food, or pets. They’ll want visitors to follow infection control rules as well.
Restrictions Due to Health Outbreaks
Facilities may temporarily restrict or limit visitors during contagious outbreaks like flu season. This protects vulnerable seniors.
Find out what the protocols are if visitation rules change. Stay in touch other ways like video calls until normal visits resume.
Respecting Consent and Privacy Protocols
Your parent gets to decide when they want to see visitors or not. Never enter their room or access belongings without their consent.
Visitor logistics help balance your parent’s preferences with healthcare needs. Maintain open communication with staff.
Signs of Concern to Watch Out For
Unfortunately, elder abuse is a reality at some long-term care facilities. Stay vigilant for any red flags when visiting.
Changes Signaling Health Issues or Abuse
Look for unexplained signs like weight loss, bedsores, bruises, or changes in hygiene or demeanor. Your parent may share worries.
These cues could reflect health problems or neglect and mistreatment. Don’t ignore your gut if something seems off.
Importance of Frequent Visits for Oversight
Regular visits allow you to get to know facility staff and routines. You’ll notice anomalies more easily.
Seeing your parent frequently also discourages abuse since workers know you’re involved and monitoring the situation.
Reporting Concerns to Nursing Home Staff
Voice worries promptly to the nursing director. Documenting details with dates can help with investigations.
You want accountability, not retaliation. Approach concerns positively by advocating for more training and oversight.
Balancing nursing home visits with your own schedule and responsibilities takes some finesse. But prioritizing regular contact nurtures your parent’s wellbeing and your family bond.
Aim for visits at least once a week or every other week if possible. Supplement with calls and texts to stay connected in between.
Most importantly, make the most of the special time together when you visit your parent. The chance to hold their hand, reminisce, or simply sit together is a gift.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should I stay when visiting my parent in a nursing home?
Plan to stay at least 30 minutes to an hour so you and your parent have time to talk and interact meaningfully. Gauge their energy level so visits don’t become too tiring.
What if my parent seems like they don’t want me to visit very much?
Respect their wishes if they express wanting less frequent visits. Stay in touch other ways and assure them you’re available whenever they’d like to see you.
Are there visiting hours or other restrictions I should know about?
Most facilities allow visitation at any time, but check for any policies related to hours, signing in, room limits, etc. Restrictions may increase during health outbreaks.
What if I notice concerning changes in my parent’s condition or care?
Note any worrisome observations and discuss them right away with their nurse or the nursing home director. Advocate respectfully but firmly for proper medical care.
How can I make the most of our visit time together?
Come prepared with meaningful activities you enjoy, like looking at old photos, playing cards, or baking treats. Offer your full attention through engaged listening and conversation.