5 Tips for Visiting a Senior Living Community

April 17, 2024

Visiting a loved one in a senior living community is a wonderful activity that is beneficial for all involved, but can sometimes feel daunting. Just like going into any unknown situation, it can be a little nerve-wracking for grown-ups and children alike. Not knowing what to expect might hold us back from actually visiting, but that can be easily remedied. Here we have some simple, tried-and-true tips for setting up a successful visit.

1. Plan ahead. 

Many senior living communities are more than willing to help set up visits for their residents, but it is always a good idea to coordinate with the care team. The care team will know if your resident has an appointment he or she needs to attend, any special events or outings that might be going on, or even just the best time of the day for a visit. Giving your loved one a heads-up is a good idea, also connecting with the care team will make sure that everyone is prepared when the time comes. This is especially helpful for residents experiencing memory loss, as it can be easy to forget about or mix up dates. 

2. Set expectations. 

Planning on bringing children to your visit? Wonderful! Kids bring so much joy and playful energy everywhere they go, including senior living communities. But before you visit, it is a good idea to set your children’s expectations. Here are some tips: 

  • Show them images of what the community looks like with online photos. 
  • Explain that multiple people live and work in the community. 
  • Remind your children of some things that Grandma/Grandpa like to hear about. 

If your loved one resides in Memory Care, such as LCB’s Reflections Memory Care neighborhood, consider a book that will help explain why Grandma/Grandpa can sometimes forget things. Here are two books that could be helpful by explaining the situation in engaging, child-friendly terms: 

3. Bring something special. 

Bringing a favorite treat or familiar gift can be a great way to help break the ice and get a little conversation going. If children are attending, have them bring a recent photo or piece of artwork to share! Many residents proudly display any new photos or grandchild’s artwork in their apartments or bring them out to show their friends. If you are bringing any kind of food or live plant, please make sure it is safe and approved by the care team ahead of time. 

4. Keep it upbeat. 

Whenever possible, try to keep the conversation upbeat and easy. Avoid heavy topics, family strife, or politics if at all possible. The idea is to have a nice, pleasant visit, so try to focus on happy updates and light, comfortable conversation. Let your loved one share what he or she wants to, and don’t press if he or she seems uncomfortable or uneasy. You want to leave the community feeling as though everyone had a nice, refreshing and rejuvenating visit! 

5. Keep it short and sweet. 

In general, try to keep your visit to an hour or under in length. Visits create a lot of excitement, but they can also be exhausting and bring up lots of emotions. By keeping visits to sixty minutes or less, you have time to reconnect but also leave time for your loved one to get back into his or her routine. 

Remember that time together is a true gift. No visit will be absolutely perfect, but all are worthwhile! If you ever have questions about coordinating a visit, or just looking for more information on senior living communities, please reach out to us.