Caregivers: How to get involved in a loved one’s stay at a long-term care or retirement living home

Maintaining a close connection to a friend or family member living at a long-term care or retirement living home is important. Getting involved in their experience makes a huge impact on enriching their time at the residence and there are a lot of different ways to get started, like visiting more often or volunteering at the residence. Here are a few simple ways to get involved in your loved one’s long-term care or retirement living experience:

Do your research

Start off by learning more about the residence your loved one is staying at. Doing your research is the best way to get started because knowing more about the residence will help you get a better sense of what rules or restrictions are in place, such as visiting hours, whether it’s permitted to bring in outside food, or how to leave the residence. A great place to start is taking a closer look at what type of care or services are provided, amenities, and what social activities or events to expect on the residence’s social calendar.

Also, it’s a good idea to sit down and chat with your loved one about how they’d like to see you get involved or what you can do to make the transition easier for them. Figure out what the resident is most concerned about and do your research to understand what options are available to help make them feel more at ease. For example, if the resident is feeling a little uneasy about socializing with others when you’re not around, you can try to accommodate these feelings by visiting more often, participating more frequently at events, or facilitating introductions with other residents or staff members to help them feel more comfortable.

Visit more often

For residents, having a support system in and outside of the residence can help uplift them and contribute to a stronger sense of belonging. Although there are plenty of opportunities within a long-term care or retirement living home to develop genuine connections with others, it’s still important for residents to feel connected to friends and family members outside of the residence. Otherwise, they could feel like they’re missing out or like they’ve been forgotten. To avoid this, try to create a routine out of visiting more often and staying for longer periods of time — especially when a resident is early on in their transition. Visiting more often will help create more comfort and stability for a resident, whether it’s a quick visit to drop off a coffee, or a weekly visit for a catch-up session, showing up more often and making your loved one feel like a priority will make a positive impact on their experience.

Plan activities for your visit

This is where the real fun begins! On the same concept of visiting more often and staying for longer periods, try to come up with more activities for your visit so you can spend more quality time together. You can get creative with your visits, but keep in mind that a fun activity doesn’t always have to be something grand. That said, you may even ask your loved one what type of activities they prefer so you can plan ahead for your visit and give them something exciting to look forward to. Some examples of simple activities for your visit include boardgames, a mini crafting session, or looking at photos from an album. If mobility allows, you can plan activities that involve a bit more adventure, such as a short drive to a new area of town that can be explored together, a visit to a local coffee shop, or even a short walk or picnic.

Get to know the community

You can expect a huge sense of community from most long-term care or retirement living residences that includes staff members, residents, family members, and volunteers. Getting to know the people within this community can help ease your loved one’s transition to long-term care and retirement living. More specifically, this will make them feel more comfortable socializing with others when you’re not around — especially if they’re shy or don’t like being around unfamiliar faces. Becoming a part of the community will not only help ease this transition, but it’ll also facilitate better communication between you and anyone who’s involved in the care of your loved one.

Volunteer at the residence

The best thing you can do for a loved one in long-term care or retirement living is to be present and actively involved in their experience. Volunteering at our residences is a great way for caregivers to better understand what goes on at the residence while spending more quality time with their loved one. As opposed to visiting the residence more frequently, getting actively involved at the residence as a volunteer gives you the chance to participate in a range of events or activities that you usually wouldn’t be a part of and you can get to know the community much better.  Most importantly, it’s a great way to give back to the community and make a positive impact on the lives of other residents. Contact us for more information on how to get involved at one of our residences or fill out a volunteer form here