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

A family visiting their elderly parents who live in The MacIntosh’s long-term care.

Many adult children with parents in a long-term care community worry that they aren’t visiting enough. It can be difficult to juggle all of your responsibilities: a career, friends, children of your own, community commitments, and more.

We understand that you want to give your loved one as much attention as you can while they’re receiving long-term care (also known as skilled nursing). Here are some common questions we get from adult children,  and some tips to make the most of your time.

1.	Boy visiting his grandfather in long-term care.

Why Visiting is Important

In a study on loneliness and older adults, researchers concluded “that more than half” of residents in a skilled nursing type community “reported feeling lonely.” Loneliness can have a negative emotional impact and physical impact on us and our loved ones. Loneliness is associated with negative effects on the cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems.

Visiting with your loved one and making them feel appreciated 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.

2.	Boy visiting his grandparents who are in long-term care.

What Are the Usual Visiting Hours?

Visiting hours will vary depending on the community where your loved one resides. At the MacIntosh communities, we offer 24-hour visitation. Be sure to ask each community director this question when you start your long-term care search.

How Often Should I Visit?

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. You can always ask the staff at the long-term care community for their opinion, as they will be spending the most time with your loved one.

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.” This “emotional closeness” mattered more than the number of visits.

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.

3.	Adult daughter taking her dad out to a movie, who lives in long-term care.

Can I Take My Parent Outside the Residence?

Every community will have different rules, but generally, approved family members or guardians may escort their loved one from the community for short trips. We suggest coordinating such outings with staff members.

_________________________________________________________

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 a good time would be to visit that day.
  • 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 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.
  • Hold their hand. Physical touch can be extremely comforting unless your parent doesn’t like to be touched. If they do like physical affection, hold their hand, fix their hair, or give them a warm hug.

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.

The social atmosphere of long-term care communities likes the MacIntosh communities, is also tremendously beneficial. Your loved one can participate in engaging dining experiences that promote social interaction and enjoy a variety of tasty food options, as well as other activities that promote wellbeing.

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