During the holiday season our thoughts often turn to visiting friends or loved ones in long-term care and assisted living facilities. The visits, while strongly recommended by those involved in health care and aging, are sometimes very emotional.

We recommend that Arizonans who visit relatives or friends during the holidays should first plan ahead to make their visits rewarding for both the residents and themselves. These tips will help you and your loved ones get the most out of a visit to a long-term care or assisted living facility:

  • Check the visiting hours beforehand. If your schedule does not allow you to visit during regular hours, contact the facility to schedule a visit. Do not show up unannounced or just “drop by”.
  • Call ahead to the facility to ask if the resident needs any personal items, clothing, or other necessities.
  • Arrange a time when the visit will not interfere with meals, medications, or scheduled activities.
  • Let the facility know if you want to share a meal with the resident.
  • Inquire about pet visits and restrictions. Many residents have roommates who may be allergic to animals.
  • Children of all ages are generally welcome. Young children rarely react negatively to nursing home or assisted living residents, but teenagers and older children may need time to adjust.
  • Specialized care units may have different visiting hours and regulations. Always call first.
  • Consider including the resident in holiday meals at home and other outings.
  • Due to the vulnerability of your loved ones and other residents, please refrain from visiting if you have a cold or flu symptoms.

If you are visiting for the first time, give yourself a chance to adjust. The surroundings may be perceived differently by you than they might be for your friend or relative. Ask the manager or administrator what to expect. Be supportive of your loved ones and their decisions and consider engaging in activities that are both stimulating and productive. Most importantly, enjoy your time with your loved ones. This can be beneficial for both of you and the time you spend will be cherished.