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Nursing Home Visitation Frequency

February 17th, 2014 · 6 Comments

When Dad first went into the nursing home we were visiting him several times a week. That frequency lasted for about four or five months until a shift in work schedules caused us to reduce our visits to once or twice a week. Our current schedule is usually once a week on Saturday or Sunday, except in cases such as this week where we all had a cold and didn’t want to spread any germs that could cause problems.

But from what I have read recently, more often isn’t always the best option for aging seniors. In other words, sometimes less is best.

Why is that?

When someone moves into a nursing home they are getting to know the staff and other residents as well as learning the routine of that particular home. Once a week seems to be an acceptable visitation plan according to experts who have observed how residents react when family and friends visit.

What they found is that residents will more likely participate in activities rather than sit around waiting to see if a family member is going to stop by or not. Some residents are more agitated after a visit, especially if the family takes them out to lunch, shopping, or take them to spend a few hours at their previous home. It confuses the aging senior, especially if they have memory problems, and they have trouble adapting when they return to the nursing home.

It’s better to let them stay in their familiar surroundings and occasionally visit rather than trying to take them out for a while. It doesn’t make sense to the family members, but it is much easier on the resident and the staff in the long run.

What we need to remember is that we need to do what is best for them, not for us. We should not regret or feel guilty that we didn’t visit them more than once a week or two at the maximum. When we do visit, we should try to arrive at approximately the same time each visit. Jumping around from morning to evening to lunch time can cause confusion on the part of the resident.

Routine works best for the elderly and for their nursing home caregivers. When we take them out of that routine it disrupts their thought process and daily rhythm. Cutting back to once a week takes a load off the shoulders of family members as well as helps the resident enjoy their new home. Don’t feel guilty. Appreciate that they are better off in the long run.


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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bonnie Gean // Feb 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I wouldn’t feel good about not visiting as often as possible, but I certainly understand why it’s better for the resident.

    Great write up, Edie! I hope your dad is doing well in his new home.

  • 2 Jen // Feb 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    That seems to make a lot of sense. I know family members are often overwhelmed by guilt when a loved one is in a nursing home. Reading this could help families know they are doing the right thing. I am going to share this on my social media to spread awareness.

  • 3 Edie // Feb 18, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Thank you, Bonnie. He is doing as good as possible under the circumstances. Continues fading away.

  • 4 Edie // Feb 18, 2014 at 9:09 am

    It is tough to know what to do, and each individual case seems to be different. Appreciate your comment and the share. Take care.

  • 5 Prof. B.T. Mienoré (Lynda Lippin) // Feb 19, 2014 at 7:14 am

    In my dad’s last few months in the nursing home, he would beg us to come see him and then ask us to leave after about 20 minutes because it was tiring for him. We would drive 2 hours each way for those 20 minutes :)

  • 6 Edie // Feb 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    You will probably never know whether your visit was worth it or not, but kudos to you for making the attempt. Bless you!

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