The Dos and Don’ts When Visiting a Nursing Home

seniors relaxing in a park of a nursing home with geriatric nurse

When a family member is admitted to a nursing facility, loved ones keep on worrying about their condition. For their well-being and the whole family’s as well, regular visits are essential.

These nursing homes have written guidelines and policies for visiting. The family may talk to the administrator to get a general idea about the things that are allowed and not allowed on the premises. Aside from these written rules, there might also be some unwritten guidelines regarding proper interaction with the resident and staff of the facility.

The Dos

Nursing homes in Worcester and many other areas have many patients under their care, and it is important to respect each one’s privacy. Even if you know them, it is good practice to knock before entering their room and step out into the hall when they need personal care. In such facilities, family members are not required to be present when a resident needs changing or needs to use the toilet.

Connect warmly with your loved ones when interacting with them. Smile frequently and be engaging. Use therapeutic touch but hold it back when they do not want to be touched. Avoid arguing with them and keep the flow of the conversation on a positive note. A patient with dementia or Alzheimer’s specifically can easily become stressed, upset, angry and depressed when you argue with them.

The Don’ts

senior laying on her bed talking to her nurse

Nursing homes and facilities generally have a quiet and organized ambiance, so bringing unruly pets and children is not advisable when visiting a loved one. Well-mannered or behaved children can provide pleasure to the patient, but if not, they may only stress the elderly. A pet can also be brought in if your loved one enjoys having it around. But family members should check with the facility about policies on pet visits.

If you arrive at the facility and the resident is sleeping, do not wake them up. They might need the sleep, and they will not enjoy the visit if they are not feeling well from their disturbed sleep. Also, if you are planning to bring in food or beverages, check with the staff about permissible items and those that are not allowed. Do not offer or give any of the foods you brought to other residents without checking with the staff first.

Visiting as a large group of family or friends together is also not a great idea. The resident might get overwhelmed and feel anxious about having a lot of people around. The reception usually is different with every patient. Try to observe your loved one if they are comfortable or fidgety among a crowd of visitors. Also, avoid overstaying and tiring your loved ones with your visit. Staying too long may interfere with the provision of care from the staff or stress out your loved one.

One of the best ways to know how to behave appropriately during visits to nursing homes is to discuss all these details with the staff. Stay respectful to the visiting and activity hours so that the family will not be interfering with the activities scheduled beforehand. Keep communication lines open with the staff so that any problem will be promptly addressed.


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