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.