Visitation restrictions in senior communities are easing now that more people have been vaccinated. That means it could be time for you and your family to plan a visit with your loved one, whether that person is a resident of memory support, or living in an assisted living or independent living setting. Spending time with you will brighten your older adult’s day and knowing when you’ll visit next gives them something to look forward to. And it can be fun!
Suggestions for fun memory support visits:
Conversations can be difficult when your loved one is becoming less verbal. Instead, put your hands to work and create something together. Bring a simple puzzle, art project, coloring book or easy game so you can do something fun with the older person. Or, allowing your visiting child to “show and tell” can light up a senior’s face as well.
Think about the life of the senior: did he score a winning touchdown? Did she win a baking contest? Before going to visit, spend some time assembling a box of memories. Think about favorite events, sports, music, and hobbies. Baseball cards. Sea shells. Child’s art. Newspaper clippings. Antique jewelry. Small stuffed animals. Holiday ornaments. Remember to include items that evoke sensory responses, such as a piece of satin or velvet, a sachet or cut flowers.
Videos & Photos
Have you been filming a child’s soccer games or recitals on your phone? Be sure to share that with the senior. Bring a photo album and go through it together. For family members who live far away, arrange video chats or phone calls so they also have a chance to virtually visit with your older adult. Don’t forget some of the silly cat videos on Facebook—laughter is always good for fun memory support visits!
When you’re together, play their favorite songs or set up a simple music player so they can listen anytime. Have a singalong...it’s okay if the words aren’t right. According to Music & Memory, music unlocks deep memories in the brain. In fact, the entire brain activates, or “lights up” when exposed to music, especially the areas of the brain that correspond to pleasure, movement and memory.
Who doesn’t love cuddling with a furry friend? If your loved one is an animal lover, bring your dog or cat with you on your next visit. Just holding or petting an animal is soothing for a person with dementia and can evoke positive memories. Be sure your animal is appropriate for a community and won’t be overwhelmed by being in new space with unfamiliar people. Inform the memory care staff you’ll be bringing it before you visit.
If you can’t join them for a meal, schedule a mini “picnic”…it could be cheese and crackers, dessert or another favorite snack your older adult loves. Have it in their room or perhaps on the patio or in the garden. Add some fun elements like a checkered placemat and small picnic basket.
Going outdoors is always a good idea for fun memory support visits when weather allows. Fresh air and sunshine can change a mood quickly and brighten your loved one’s day. Bring some bubbles for a young child to blow. You will all enjoy the fresh air and maybe meet some of the other residents and families.
Impromptu spa treatments
Touch is so important, especially for a senior with memory issues. Just five minutes of hand massage can induce a physical relaxation response and reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress. Bring some nice lotion and put on gentle music. And consider giving them a mini-manicure as a treat.
Reading out loud is wonderful way to connect. Maybe it’s a favorite classic. Or a cherished children’s book. If your mother loved poetry, reading her poems could be a true gift. If Dad had a favorite book, read a chapter or two out loud.
Join a group
While today’s memory care communities are designed to offer comfortable areas for families groups to gather for fun and entertainment, it may be a while before joining group activities will be possible. The good news is, all the above activities can be enjoyed in an apartment, or in a comfortable space outdoors. The goal is for you and your family to spend some quality time with your loved one and make their day brighter.
At Clearwater Living, your family is our family.
In memory support at Clearwater Living, we aim to create an atmosphere that empowers the individual to engage with their life, family, and community in a meaningful way. Call the community nearest you today!