Enjoy a visit with your elder

What to do with Mamma (or Papa) - is a work in progress.  I am always adding more ideas so please check back often!  PLEASE, PLEASE  - comment and share your ideas and experience, it's so important to visit our Elders and make them know they are loved.

Often I hear people say they just hate to visit an elderly person in assisted living or nursing home because they just don't know what to do or say.  Here are some ideas to help pass the time.

New ideas in 2013

  • Search Google earth on your tablet computer and use street view to show them places they've visited or places they've always wanted to see
  • Skype with distant relatives on your computer or a computer owned by the nursing home
  • Use your laptop to set up an account on Ancestry.com and have your elder help you capture details and search for other relatives.
  • Read the news paper from your elder's home town 
  • Host a "happy hour" with non-alcoholic drinks for your Elder and their roomates or friends. Take a blender and make fruit smoothies. ALWAYS check with the nursing home and dieticians before providing food and drink to anyone, even your elder.  I've made great smoothies in summer with crushed ice, no sugar premaid vanilla pudding and bananas or strawberries.  (Be warned though some people can't tolerate the potassium in bananas.  And, don't use berries with big seeds, they get caught under dentures.)
  • Take catalogs and have them help you pick out gifts for Christmas.  
  • Buy and help them fill out Christmas cards for distant relatives or former neighbors.
  • Go caroling in the nursing home or organize a "caroling" evening when other residents may join you. 
  • Talk about the food or fun events they remember from childhood.  
  • Talk about their favorite recipes and, if they cooked often, ask them to retell recipes and write it all down.  
  • Even better - for Christmas ask THEM to write the recipe in their own hand then make copies for all the grand kids for Christmas.  Give them the recipe with a basket of the ingredients and a favorite photo of Grandma. 
  • Get a map of their state or the US and ask them to describe all the places they've visited and their memories of those places, who they saw, what they did. 

These were added in 2011 and 2012
  • Play cards or another type of game together
  • Go during a concert or other performance:  see the monthly calendar at the facility, then show up 20 minutes early and take your elder to listen.
  • "Walk" around the neighborhood, if possible you can stroll outside a bit.  If your elder is in a wheelchair, push them along.  I take mom to a bench at the end of the block and we sit in the sunshine or shade depending on the weather. 
  • Coffee and pie:  Take pie and coffee from McDonalds to the elder and share snack time.   Ask the nurse if your elder needs decaf or regular coffee and whether they can have sugar or need something else.   Take diabetic cookies if they can't have sugar. 
  • Do crossword puzzles together - be sure to ask them about the words, don't fill it in FOR them, the idea is to interact. 
  • Paint by number, helps cognitive abilities for alzheimers  patients too!
  • Read jokes or funny stories aloud from  Readers Digest.
  • Meet the bus at the store:  Most ALF's have a van that takes residents on regular shopping trips.  If possible arrange for your parent to go along then meet them at the store to shop with them.   
  • Get those old relatives on paper - I scanned many of Mom's old photos into my laptop.  Every couple of weeks, I take the laptop on a visit and show her a few pictures.  For each one she tells me who it is, the year and some details about the people or places in the photos.   I enter this information in the "properties" tabs for each photo.  This helps her memory, retains the history and is a fun activity to share with her. 
  • Help them write letters:  Take pens, stationary or blank cards and their address book to a comfortable spot and write some letters to distant friends and relatives.  I help mom save news clippings that we send to her uncle (yes, at 90, she still has 1 uncle left!!).   I take dictation for her comments and we send letters to keep in touch.  It's good for her elderly relatives to receive mail as well!!