As we head in another busy holiday season, a visit to a grandparent living at a nursing home may be a part of your family’s holiday travel plans. On the whole, intergenerational activities rank high for lifting the mood of residents who live in a nursing home or skilled nursing community. For grandparents, it can be one of the best ways to boost their spirits.
How can you prepare a child for a visit to a nursing home?
If this is your child’s first visit since their grandparent made the move to the nursing home, try not to make such a big deal about going to a “nursing home” that you frighten them. Instead, take time to explain to your children what a nursing home is and who they are likely to encounter besides their grandparent. Let them know their grandparent is excited to see them, but other residents who live there might be happy to see them too.
Plan activities your children can do in the nursing home
Before you make the visit, plan a few activities your children can do with their grandparent in the nursing home. What games do your children enjoy most? Are there any that they could teach their grandparent to play with them? You could also bring arts and crafts supplies and have them work on a project together. Sharing in an activity together will help them continue to enjoy the unique and special grandparent-grandchild bond.
Let them model your behavior
If you have visited a nursing home before with a young child or even a pet, you know what a bright spot it creates in the residents’ day. You will likely find your child is greeted by a potential new friend at many points along the way. If you are relaxed and comfortable talking with other residents on your way to your parent’s room, your child will be as well. Remember that it isn’t uncommon for some residents of a nursing home to rarely ever have visitors. A smile and a few holiday good wishes can make a big difference.
Even though taking a child to visit a loved one in a nursing home may present a few challenges, it is important to make time to do it. It will help your child see the value of continuing relationships between children and their elderly family members.