I really should go visit but.....
There are dozens of ways to finish this sentence - especially when talking about visiting someone in a nursing home. Whether this attitude reflects our busy lifestyles or our fear of aging and disability along with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, it is important to understand that visits are vital in maintaining emotional ties with loved ones.

What would you think life would be like if you were living in a nursing home? You might be conscious of being physically removed from your familiar home and community. You might feel lost, unsure of how you will adjust to this new place. You may feel that you’ve somehow been rejected.

During this time of transition, the need for human interaction is especially important. Maintaining ties with friends and family helps to assure the new resident that he or she has not been abandoned, that important relationships will continue just as they did outside the nursing home.

You, as the visitor, may feel anxious at the thought of visiting the nursing home. “Nursing homes depress me,” many people say.

At first, the sight of so many elderly people who have suffered some form of disability may be upsetting. But you must learn to look beyond the physical appearances. Think of each resident as an important individual who has lived a long and full life, and whose uniqueness does not depend on physical appearance.

You may be bothered by those who appear to be confused or disoriented. Keep in mind that these people can be reached by simply holding their hands and looking into their eyes. Even a person in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease will still respond to tenderness and affection.

Visiting helps:

  • Ensure better care; staff know you’ll be there and monitoring your loved one’s care;
  • Brighten up your loved one’s day and gives them something to look forward to;
  • Encourage your loved one to remain connected to the family and community; and
  • Provide you with the opportunity to see for yourself how your loved one is doing.

What do you say or do after “hello” and comments on the weather? Try these suggestions:

  • Reminisce
  • Bring a video
  • Polish fingernails
  • Help write a letter
  • Bring a favourite food
  • Bring a photo album
  • Bring children or pets
  • Bring a game/deck of cards
  • Read a story/newspaper article
  • Share family and community news
  • Help write or record an autobiography
  • Go for a walk or wheelchair ride outdoors

For a good visit:

  • Ask your loved one when they would like you to visit.
  • Establish a regular visiting plan with your loved one for something to look forward to. Come at other times as well, so you can get a well-rounded picture of how things are going for them.
  • If you say you’ll be there, show up! Residents have enough disappointments in their lives as it is.
  • Allow your loved one to vent anger and frustration at their situation. Acknowledge those feelings and listen.
  • Take your loved one out of their room and out of the facility, weather permitting. A change of scene helps a lot.


#1 Kate 2020-11-22 22:00
Thank you for all the tips on starting. Residents support group and on visiting loved ones. An amazing website which I really need. I find myself advocating not just for my mum but for other residents and the COVID situation is used as an excuse to restrict residents unfairly. Thank you so much for this website.