10 Things to Do During An Assisted Living Visit

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 13 July 2012

Sometimes, guilt or sadness about a move to assisted living keeps family members and friends from visiting. Sometimes, it may just be an uncertainty about what to do after you arrive, a fear of sitting in silence in your loved one’s apartment, watching the clock, making small talk.

Here is a list of simple ideas for making an assisted living visit meaningful and enjoyable:

  1. Do a volunteer project together, either on or off the campus.
  2. Connect with long-distance family or friends on Skype (or FaceTime).
  3. Play games (cards, board games, trivia, Sudoku).
  4. Cook together or have a meal together in the community’s kitchen/dining facilities.
  5. Watch a favorite TV show together; plan your visits around it and spend time talking about it before/after the program (and bring snacks to enjoy while you watch).
  6. Listen to music or participate in a sing-a-long.
  7. Learn to knit, crochet, or some other crafty activity.
  8. Participate in activities sponsored by the community.
  9. Make daily or weekly calls. If you’re not sure what to talk about, ask about a childhood memory or story about living during the war or raising kids. You may learn something new!
  10. Celebrate traditions and holidays. It’s not as much about gifts but about time together; routines and rituals can be special or simple and help to promote normalcy.


When you find something that works, stick with it!

Your turn: What do you like to do when you visit a friend or relative in assisted living?


There are 9 Comments about this post

  1. Todd Barker says,

    Take a walk with your loved one, weather permitting! Or if she/he is in a wheelchair, go outside with your loved one in the wheelchair and let them enjoy a beautiful summer day. Helping your loved one exercise is very important to overall senior health in assisted living communities.


    on 13 July 2012 / 1:43 PM

  2. That’s a great idea, Todd! Thanks for sharing it.


    on 13 July 2012 / 3:01 PM

  3. Klaudia says,

    Great list of what -to-do :)
    I would add also:
    - bring laptop/tablet to watch pictures or family videos together
    - bring laptop/tablet to use for video conference with other relatives
    - go to the movie or theater


    on 14 July 2012 / 3:43 AM

  4. Thanks, Klaudia — glad you liked the list! Your additions are great too. Appreciate you sharing them!


    on 16 July 2012 / 10:40 AM

  5. Sharon says,

    When I go to visit my mother who is 2+ hours away, we take her food that she may not get at her “new home”. In the summer we take her Kentucky Fried Chicken that she loves and have a picnic outside. In the winter we take finger foods that is easier for her to eat. She is Ukrainian descent and I took her Kielbasa and cut it into slices that she can pick up and eat. It is hard, but I always think of what would she do it if were one of her children. She’d be there on a regular basis.


    on 27 August 2012 / 8:55 AM

  6. Sharon, what a wonderful idea! I love that you bring seasonal and cultural favorites for your Mom, and that you integrate an activity (picnic) and make it easy for her to enjoy these foods. I’m sure these are welcome diversions from the standard menu (which probably doesn’t change too often) at her new home. That’s such a great way to look at the visits too — if only more people would share that approach (i.e. Mom would do it for me)! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and sharing these comments about your family’s experience/example. All the best!


    on 27 August 2012 / 10:07 AM

  7. kat says,

    My mom & I hold hands and always sing “You are my Sunshine” when I first arrive to visit with her. I think it “wakes her up” to some degree. I also take her rides thru park, and of course we stop for an ice cream ! We are fortunate to have the SPARK program here in SE WI, so she gets an art class at least once a month.


    on 27 August 2012 / 6:33 PM

  8. That’s beautiful. What a special ritual and wonderful way to “wake her up!” It sounds like you have fun together, going for rides and getting ice cream. The SPARK program sounds great too! Thanks for sharing your comments.


    on 27 August 2012 / 8:38 PM

  9. [...] Establish – or maintain – a routine. If you always visited Mom on Sundays, continue to do so. If Dad read the paper every morning at home, be sure to change his delivery address so he can still get the paper at his new location. It’s a great time to create new traditions and rituals too, even if they have to be adapted to the new setting. For ideas and inspiration, check out 10 Things to Do During An Assisted Living Visit. [...]


    on 30 August 2012 / 9:37 AM


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