How Often Should I Visit My Loved One in Long-Term Care?

Many adult children with parents in a long-term care community worry that they aren’t visiting enough.

Do you feel this way, too? It’s difficult, but don’t let the feeling of guilt overtake you. Cut yourself some slack—you have many other demands on your time: a career, friends, children of your own, community commitments and more.

Still, we understand that you want to give your loved one as much attention as they need while they’re receiving long-term care services (also known as skilled nursing). With that in mind, we came up with a few tips for you when it comes to visiting your parent or loved one.

Visiting Your Loved One in a Skilled Nursing Community: How Often is Best?

This is a tricky question, because there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really comes down to how often you can manage it with your schedule and how often you think your parent would appreciate a visit. That could be once a day, once a week, once a month—really, whatever you feel is best.

You can always ask the staff at the long-term care community what their opinion is. Since they’ll be spending a lot of time with your loved one, they’ll be able to tell you if they feel like Mom is lonely or Dad could do with a friendly visit.

And remember, it’s quality over quantity. In one study on loneliness and older adults in skilled nursing communities, researchers found that “the frequency of contact with family and friends did not explain the experience of loneliness.”

In other words, the amount of visits didn’t matter. Rather, it was the “emotional closeness” seniors felt with their loved ones that mattered.

So just because you can’t visit as often as you like, doesn’t mean that your loved one will feel lonely or abandoned. It’s all about the quality of your visits, and making sure your loved one knows you care with meaningful conversations, whether that’s in person or over the phone.


Related: Should My Parent Choose Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing?


Tips for Visiting Someone in a Long-Term Care Community

When you do visit, the best thing you can do is make it all about your loved one. Make sure they don’t feel like the visit is rushed or forced. Stay positive, but don’t be afraid to ask them if they aren’t feeling well or are unhappy.

Here are some more tips for visiting a loved one in a long-term care community:

  • Be mindful of their schedule. Is your mom a morning person? Does Dad enjoy an afternoon nap? Be sure to take their personal preference into account when you visit. You can always call ahead, or even ask the staff when would be a good time to visit that day. There might even be an activity going on that the two of you can join.
  • Ask questions. Sometimes it can be difficult for visitors to think of things to talk about with their loved one for an extended visit. Some great conversation starters include asking them about childhood memories, discussing current events they’re interested in, or asking them for advice about a favorite hobby the two of you share.
  • Bring guests every now and then—but not all at once. Perhaps your loved one would enjoy a visit from their grandkids or their old neighbor. It might be a good idea to bring them along on your next visit. Of course, bringing the whole gang might be a little overwhelming, so try not to bring too many guests with you at one time.
  • Hold their hand. Physical touch can be extremely comforting. Unless your parent doesn’t like to be touched, give them plenty of physical affection while you visit. Hold their hand, fix their hair or give them a warm hug. Just be sensitive if they have an illness that might make contact painful.

Why Visiting is Important

In a study on loneliness and older adults, researchers cited findings that concluded “that more than half” of residents in a skilled nursing type community “reported feeling lonely.”

Loneliness can have an emotional impact, but it can also have a physical impact. It’s associated with negative effects on the cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems.

Visiting with your loved one and making them feel loved and cared for is an excellent way to combat loneliness. Letting them know how important they are to you can help them overcome any loneliness they might be feeling.

Long-Term Care in Columbus, Ohio

At MacIntosh Communities, we take the time to get to know our residents. To avoid feelings of loneliness, we have permanent staffing assignments that support genuine relationships. Even when you can’t visit, the staff will be there for your loved one.

There’s also the wider community to help prevent feelings of isolation. At MacIntosh long-term care communities, your parent can enjoy engaging dining experiences that promote social interaction and a variety of tasty food options, as well as other activities that encourage socialization.

For more information on MacIntosh long-term care services, you can explore our website, contact us online, or call us at (614) 345-9500.