The statistics are in, 60% of Nursing Home residents never get a visitor. These elderly are the new orphans in society. What is so difficult about visiting in the nursing home?

  • When you observe so many visiting families, they just don’t seem to know what to do. Families will arrive with young children and nothing for them to eat, drink, or do. The children end up chasing each other up and down the halls and then being told to be quiet and sit down.
  • Family members will come in, stand around the elder, looking down at her saying how “good” she looks. And they soon are searching for something to say, especially with an elder who doesn’t respond.
  • The family may not have visited for some time, but once there, they spend their precious time questioning the elder. If the elder has short term memory problems they can’t answer these question, yet the elder does realize somehow they are letting down the questioner.

I have observed a very caring family come into a nursing home for the first time, to visit their mother following a very debilitating stroke. Their mom had been living independently and just within a week was unable to speak, walk, and take care of the most basic of self care. The family stood around the woman’s bed, looking down at her, as a group. After about 10 minutes of small talk about how she looks, the conversation changed to where they would be going together for lunch.

Just a week earlier, this woman would have been included in lunch talk, or maybe they would all have gathered at her apartment. Now, in this short span of time she was an onlooker, not a participant and they were now visiting her in a nursing home.

No doubt it is very physically and emotionally draining to visit a loved one in a Nursing Home. The answer comes from being prepared for the visit, and in many cases creating a new normal for your visit. Planning can change what is just visiting in a nursing home, to a new connection and for children even good memories.

Please download the free gift: “Come in – the door’s open”

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing