Fun Activities When Visiting a Loved One in Long-Term Care and Retirement Living

It’s not uncommon for a long-term care or retirement resident to feel a little homesick from time to time — whether they’re new to the residence and still adjusting, or they’ve already been there for a while. For this reason, most residents really look forward to when their friends or family members pay them a visit. To extend the duration of your next visit, try to come up with some fun activities that you can enjoy with your loved one. Here’s a list of fun activities for your next visit so you can spend more quality time together:

1. Print out photos and bring a hard copy with you

Before your next visit, dig around for some old and new photos that you think your loved one would enjoy seeing. Print out hard copies and bring them along with you on your visit so you can look at the photos together. Rather than viewing the photos on a digital screen, it’s easier for a resident to look at a hard copy. The best part about this idea is that they can keep the hard copies with them at the residence.

Put the photos into an album for the resident so they can feel like they’re receiving a thoughtful gift. Including a photo album also makes the photos more accessible so residents can view them whenever they feel like it. Also, you can bring new photos each time you visit the residence, and both of you can keep adding them to the album. Just be sure to include photos of friends or family members from recent events or milestones, so your loved one can feel included. This will also help offset any negative feelings they might have about missing out on what’s going on outside of the residence.

2. Handwritten letters

If there are any friends or family members who cannot visit as often, get them to write the resident a handwritten letter or note that you can help pass along. Bringing letters with you that are addressed to the resident can help make them feel special and remind them that everyone is thinking of them. Also, letters don’t take up too much space to store in a resident’s living space and it’s easy for a resident to take them out to have a look whenever they’re feeling a little homesick. Unsure what to write about in your letter? You can mention some of your favorite memories with the resident, or what you love or appreciate about them the most. Try to be as detailed as possible so the resident has more to read when you’re not around and they’re feeling lonely.

3. Share your favourite memories

Grab a notebook and ask all your friends and family members to write down their favorite memory with the resident. Bring this notebook along with you when you visit so you can go over these special memories with the resident. If the resident is a little older, this can be a great exercise to help jog their memory and to remind them of special moments or details they might’ve forgotten about. Let the resident keep the notebook with them as a reminder of all the precious moments you’ve spent together.

4. Tour of the residence

If mobility isn’t an issue for the resident, you can ask them to give you a tour of the residence and their living space. Allowing the resident to lead a “tour” can be fun and exciting for them, and they’ll love the idea of getting to show you around. During this “tour,” make sure you’re actively present in the experience and ask a lot of questions to show the resident you’re interested in what’s going on and want to be involved in their life.

5. Picnic

If the weather is nice, set up a cute outdoor picnic for you and your loved one. But be sure to check with the residence first to see if there are any specific policies in place when it comes to bringing in outside food or leaving the residence. If the residence permits bringing your own food, try to grab some of the resident’s favorite foods or even something that they love to eat but isn’t typically served at the residence. When preparing for a picnic together, make sure to bring a sheet for the resident to sit on and choose a spot that has plenty of shade. Most importantly, bring enough water to ensure your loved one keeps hydrated. Also, try to set up the picnic somewhere close to the residence so your loved one doesn’t have to walk for too long.