Going to visit Grandma or Grandpa can be a source of great excitement, but can also create anxiety for our young children, especially if Grandma or Grandpa’s home is now a senior living community. But don’t let a little unknown deter you from planning a visit. Connecting with family and loved ones is so important for our older generation – and the younger ones too. Here are a few tips to set you up for a successful visit.
- Let your little one know what to expect. Explain where you are going and what you might see. Showing kids photos of what the community looks like will help them understand what the day will entail. If there’s a special courtyard, recreation room, or movie theater in the community, point that out too. The more magical the location might seem, the more their excitement will blossom!
- Plan ahead with your senior. Seniors and surprises can be a tricky combo. Give your loved one a heads-up so that he or she can be ready for company. Who knows – a quick trip to the in-house salon or barber shop might be in order, and you know they will want to look and feel their best for your visit.
- Bring something homemade. It doesn’t have to be a baked good (though those are usually welcome too) but having your child write a card, draw a picture, or even repurpose a craft from school is a perfect “housewarming” gift that Grandma or Grandpa will love to show off to their friends. Having something to present to your loved one can also help break the ice if your child is feeling nervous.
- Make sure the caretaking team is aware. Many communities have an “open door” policy, but even so, calling ahead to let the associates know about your plans is much appreciated. The caretaking team can make sure your senior is prepared for the visit, and even gently remind him/her in case they forget.
- Set a timeframe that works for everyone. Determining a timeframe beforehand is helpful to avoid overstimulated children – and seniors. Just like you wouldn’t plan an activity during your toddler’s naptime, you probably don’t want to plan a visit when your senior is tired, or hold them up from a mealtime or special activity. Remember, your visit doesn’t have to be long. The excitement of having a loved one visit is wonderful, but short and sweet is best.
- Take photos. Even if no one thinks they are “photo ready” – take the pictures! Someday you’ll look back and be so thankful that you took the time to be together.
Lastly, try not to set too many expectations. The most important part of the visit is the connection between you, your loved one, and your child. The focus of your time together should be the hugs, the smiles, and the appreciation of having time together.