As the parent of a toddler, you might not be sure about whether it's appropriate to let him or her visit an elderly relative who lives in a nursing home. The fact is, many senior citizens love visiting with their young grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-nieces and -nephews, and other children in their lives. Making your toddler's visit a success depends on paying close attention to the interaction between the child and the elderly adult. Here are some tips on making the visit pleasant for everyone.
Time It Right
You already know that it's important to schedule outings around your little one's schedule. You try not to go grocery shopping or on other errands when your tot is going to be too hungry, too tired or just too cranky. When visiting a relative in a convalescent home, you'll also need to work around your elderly relative's schedule. Find out whether your loved one sleeps in or is up with the birds, and whether he or she takes an afternoon siesta.
You can also try to work around meals that are served in the dining room, as these are often times of social interaction that your relative will not want to miss, if possible. Try to find out if there are any doctor's appointments or enrichment classes scheduled, too, and try to work around them.
Watch for Germs
While you are probably used to seeing little ones with runny noses and little coughs, particularly in the winter and spring, it's important to make sure that your toddler is not bringing an illness into the nursing home. The elderly often have immune systems that leave them susceptible to catching colds, influenza and other various illnesses. When in doubt, call your relative and, if applicable, the floor nurse to ask whether it's safe to bring a sniffling child for a visit.
Your relative's room in the nursing home is likely not equipped for small visitors. Consider bringing along something for your toddler to do. Avoid loud, battery-operated toys or those that require a large space to move around. Try to bring items like a coloring book and crayons, action figures or maybe something new and novel from the dollar store that will hold your tot's attention for a little while.
Throughout the visit, watch your toddler and your host for signs of fatigue, and cut the visit short if you see exasperation from either party. It's better to leave on a high note and visit more frequently than it is to overstay your welcome and risk a tantrum or too much fatigue on the part of your elderly relative. These visits will provide treasured memories to both your young child and the senior citizen, and they are worth the extra effort.
Contact a center like Hilltop House for more help.Share