Fun Activities When Visiting Your Loved Ones in Assisted Living

Nov 8, 2018 by Janet Nordlie 0 Comments

People in their advanced years love spending time with their friends and family—and having visitors can be some of the most joyous events they look forward to.

Remember, your loved one's new assisted living community will be a new home, and just like home, friends and family should come by to talk and share time together. Visiting your loved ones at their new living community doesn't have to be only for a special event, and coming by just to say "Hi!" is a great way to keep them feeling like they are loved and not forgotten.

However, if you're feeling as if you want to do something fun and different when you visit, here are some great activities for the family and the community of assisted living residents to do during visits.

Watch Classic Movies Together

Nostalgia can spark your loved one's memory and initiate conversations about things like how old they were when they first saw it, who they were in a romantic relationship with at the time, or how things were in that decade.

Listen to Their Favorite Music

Music can transcend normal communication and can help give words to the feelings your loved one may be having trouble communicating. If you're not sure what his or her favorite music is, just ask (if possible), otherwise try asking a friend or another family member, or just pick out some popular tunes that are appropriate to their era and see what reaction they have. 

Bring a Furry Friend

Animals are often used as therapy aids. Bringing in one of your pets can provide moments of great joy and contentment. 

Look at Photos Together

Whether reminiscing over photos from the past or keeping the new assisted living resident updated with new family photos, looking through photos can be an easy and engaging activity that allows senior citizens to be involved in family affairs, even from afar. 

Create a Holiday Gift Basket Together

Elderly people can often feel as though they are a burden, rather than a help. Try telling your loved one that you would love their input and help coming up with a gift basket for someone. Having a sense of purpose is extremely satisfying to most people.

Send Out Holiday and Birthday Cards

Writing and signing greeting cards is another way to help seniors feel like they are still involved and still contributing to the family. 

Ask for Help

Likewise, you can make your senior loved one feel more needed by asking for their advice or input concerning a difficult situation you are going through, or ask for help planning your garden by looking through a seed catalog together.

Bring Different People with You

Switch things up during your next visit by bringing an old neighbor with you or a family member who hasn't had an opportunity to visit yet. 

Read a Book

If you visit regularly, you can read a chapter each visit and discus the story, what your loved one liked about it, and what you both think may happen next. Another great activity to keep their memory sharp would be to ask what they remember from the last reading session. 

Eat Dinner Together

This may seem incredibly simple, but everyone enjoys having a companion to eat with. Plan on coming when lunch or dinner is served, or bring something special. Dining together also gives you an opportunity to see how well they are eating and if they like the assisted living facility's food choices. 

Call an Out-of-Town Friend or Family

A great pastime often lost in younger generations is talking on the phone. Your loved one will likely love it if you set up a time for them to call one of their friends or a family member who may not be able to come visit in person

Write or Record an Autobiography 

Passing on knowledge can give the elderly a great sense of purpose and fulfillment. This is because it helps to validate their accumulated wisdom, understanding, and perspective and allows them to showcase how capable and helpful they still are. Allow the senior adult in your life to share a lifetime of stories for you to document and preserve.

Play "Name That Tune"

Another simple, easy-to-plan senior activity for those in assisted living is a memory recall game using music they would know. Find an era-appropriate playlist online and have some fun trying to guess the name and artist of the song. 

Help Decorate a Warm Living Space

Start by asking if there is anything that your loved one would like done differently or have added to their living space, and then take them out to get the required items or crafting supplies. Keep things focused on what he or she would like done, and not so much on what you think should be done. Because the latter stages of life often allow less control, the right to opinion and preference can increase the happiness and well-being of most seniors. 

Build a Bird Feeder and Hang It Outside

Providing a home for a bird may be simple, but it's meaningful and caring. It can also become an ongoing hobby, and the craft can be as simple or detailed as desired.

Offer a Gentle Hand Massage

The small gesture of physical touch can go a long way toward feeling appreciated and loved, especially for seniors who are lonely after losing a beloved spouse.

Play Cards or a Board Game

Playing cards and bingo may be stereotypical activities associated with senior living, but they are still a great way to keep the brain active. And the time spent with friends and family will always be valued. 

Discuss Current Events

Consider bringing in a newspaper and going over some of the top news stories. Discuss current local, national, and international events. However, steer clear from getting into a heated debate about politics or religion, and be cautious not to allow darker current events to cause distress in your loved one. These conversations should be thought-provoking and encouraging, not depressing or upsetting.

Go for a Walk

A great low-impact activity for seniors is walking. Since older adults may not get out or around as often as younger generations, a nice stroll through a park or mall can be both mentally and physically stimulating.

Schedule a Photoshoot

Try coordinating a time for family and friends to visit and take keepsake photos. Photos aren't just for remembering the past, but also for creating new memories. 

Visit the Humane Society

Animals can bring so much joy and excitement to anyone's life. The same can be true for homeless dogs and cats who are in need of human attention. You can make sure to let your loved one know how much they are improving the animals' lives too, when you visit.

Get Her Nails Done

Many woman love to feel pampered. Let her know she can still feel special by taking her out and focusing some time just on her.

Plan a Picnic 

Most seniors love an opportunity to get out. And it doesn't have to be a big activity—a simple meal at a park with some conversation can make their whole week. 

Get Dressed Up and Go to a Musical

This can feel like a big night out and can be something that seniors look forward to on their calendar for weeks or months. Having something to look forward to in the future can be quite beneficial to happiness and mental well-being. 

Explore Community Activities Together

Take some time to find out about fun recurring or one-time local events, and go explore them together.

Go to Church or Other Faith Gatherings

Being part of a community, even outside their own families and assisted living communities, can give seniors a great sense of purpose and belonging. Faith communities, specifically, can help bring peace and hope to those suffering afflictions or dealing with anxieties about mortality. 

Go Fishing

If your grandfather or father loved fishing when he was younger, ask him if he would enjoy going again. Maybe your mother or grandmother enjoyed fishing throughout the years.  This activity may take some considerations on your end to set up including: suitable locations, sun and heat conditions, seating comfort, any health considerations, baiting and casting assistance, etc. Carefully identifying all aspects of the day trip will help ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. 

Ask What He or She Would Like to Do

Probably the most enjoyable activity you can do when visiting your elderly loved one is whatever it is they want to do. Just ask what he or she would find enjoyable and do everything you can to arrange it. Since older adults usually have fewer opportunities to make meaningful choices, this will be a welcomed gesture. 

No matter what fun activities you decide to engage in with your loved one at their assisted living community, the quality time spent together will be the most important aspect of your visit. 


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Topics: Senior living activities

Written by Janet Nordlie