Visiting Parents?  Plan Ahead

Visiting ParentsVisiting parents, whether you live far or near to your older parents, it benefits all to plan ahead. Doesn’t matter whether they live in their own home or in a communal setting, Feeling lonely, especially if your parent lives alone can cause health issues such as depression. Visiting parents can make a positive difference. Have a block of time set for the visit when you won’t have distractions…. turn off your phone.

Visiting parents in the morning or first half of the day, when they likely have the most energy is preferred to late afternoon or evening.

Remind them of your visit and ask  what you can bring– give them a choice of A or B.

Depending on your senior mom’s/dad’s physical and cognitive ability, bring food or your tools, or a new family photo – framed.

Accentuate the Positive

As our parents age, it can bring up a lot of feelings from the past. It can be difficult to see a parent becoming frailer or just “old”.  In most cases, parents are excited to see their adult children, even if they have a strange way of showing it.

Lower expectations – for all of you

Try to be upbeat. Ask their opinion about things

Stay on topics known to be safe or pleasant

Do an activity, either in the home or take them out, even if for a walk

Ask if you can help with something, an errand, or fixing something in the house

Focus on what they want to do or talk about

Have “props” with you, a photo album, some articles, music, recipes – crossword puzzles etc.

Share some of your stories, they want to know what you are doing and ask them about their life

Whatever Your Relationship, Keep it in the here and Now

Speak loudly and slowly – if they have any hearing impairment

Take notice of their energy level

Encourage reminiscing, if they react well to it

Be prepared to be the conversation starter, if they are not up to it

Don’t force things

Quality over quantity

If a parent has dementia, be informed, meet them where they are, not where you wish they could be

Older parents may mellow, or be more aggressive. You know them best. Your visit is for them, so don’t make it about you. Practice patience if need be. You are the able body/minded one making the effort to visit, believe that it means so much to them, just because you are you, and they are your parents. Should you notice some decline in their cognitive or physical health and ability, speak to an elder care professional and consider hiring a caregiver. An aide can help with personal care and running of the household, including transportation and companionship. It may be a good time to have a consultation while you are visiting your parents in South Florida.