Creating Lasting Memories: Visiting Relatives with a Senior



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Visiting relatives may be much extra work for seniors and their caregivers.

Relatives may not understand your loved one’s mobility difficulties or enduring hours of travel and interaction. They may not understand that it takes planning and packing to load Granny and her wheelchair into the car packed for any medical or safety emergency.

They probably have never experienced the problems caused by Granny’s wheelchair and can’t go up their relatives’ front steps or through their front door.

They might not realize that for an older person with dementia, leaving a place they know well can be very upsetting.

Perhaps visitors do not realize that the loved one needs to stay on a medication schedule and rest during the day. They don’t have the experience and concerns you have as a caregiver for a senior, particularly one with health problems.

So, when they invite you to spend the day at their house, they don’t think about the problems that could come up.

However, you probably know the limitations of your loved one. You probably know how they would react to a long drive, noise and unfamiliar places, long hours without much rest, and any interruption to the routine.

You’re likely torn between wanting to see relatives and not wanting to cause exhausting disruptions and inconveniences. You hate to turn them down, but what’s the solution?

One Possible Solution

One possible solution is to invite just a few of your relatives to visit on different days at your place, and to choose the time and duration of the visit.

Tell them that you are trying to accommodate them, and ask them to be considerate about what the loved one can handle in terms of her health and energy.

Instead of providing a complete meal for the relatives, ask them to bring some sandwiches, or just chips and beverages, and to eat in the kitchen.

Ask them to help you clean up and to supervise their children in the house or yard.

Emphasize that you want them to experience a pleasant time with Granny and not wear her out needlessly.

That goes for you too. You don’t need extra housekeeping or meal preparation work.

Make it clear that you and Granny have a schedule and routine to keep. You would like for a visit to be pleasant for everyone.

Another idea for an upcoming visit by the relatives is to move the location out of your home.

When going to see family, make plans ahead of time by reserving a party room or meeting room at a public building or restaurant near your home.

You may find a room for reservation at a restaurant, a VFW hall or fraternal lodge, or a community recreation center.

All the relatives who attend can share the cost of reserving the room and pay for their own meals. Here, you have no reason to do all the housekeeping or meal preparation.

The entrances, restrooms, and parking spaces would be handicapped accessible in public facilities. You and Granny can come and go when you need to do so. Relatives can stay and socialize as long as they want.

It’s the People, not the place.

There are a lot of opportunities to make happy memories while visiting relatives. Ask your visitors to do their part to make the experience comfortable and enjoyable for you, the seniors, and all who attend.

The place is unimportant; the people are the reason for the visit. Think ahead and consider how to best conserve your health and physical energy during a visit.

Have a pleasant visit together!

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