5 Fun Activities to Do With Your Loved One in Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing

Posted on: August 28, 2023

This blog was originally published in September 2019. It was updated in April 2022.

Visiting a loved one in assisted living or skilled nursing can be a fun, enjoyable experience for both of you. 

You might be feeling nervous about what you might do or say when you get there. These thoughts are completely normal, but don’t let that discourage you from going.

Even if you’re a little hesitant to visit an assisted living or skilled nursing community, this blog will help you overcome your discomfort and plan a memorable visit for all.

Nursing home visit with grandson

Fun Ideas for Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Visits

Assisted living and skilled nursing visits can be fun for both you and your loved one. Try some of the ideas below for a special experience together.

  • Bring the kids. Most older adults love to see children — especially children related to them. For young children, pick a time of day when they’re usually awake and in a good mood. For older children, give them a little background on the assisted living or skilled nursing community you’ll be visiting so they understand what to expect. 
  • Plan to go out. Your loved one may appreciate a meal out or a shopping trip, particularly if they don’t drive anymore. Pick a destination that your loved one will enjoy, and be mindful of things like accessible walking areas, available restrooms, and places to sit down.
  • Reminisce about the past. Looking through old photos or home videos can be a fun way to spend a visit together. Bring along a photo album, either physical or digital, to share. You may also bring music they enjoy or favorite movies to watch together.
  • Play a game together. If your loved one enjoys brain-teasers or puzzles, bring a few along to do together. A large puzzle with many pieces can provide enjoyment for not only one visit, but for several. Or, try board games, crosswords, cards, or any other game your loved one might enjoy.
  • Head outside. Getting exercise and some sunshine is good for everyone, no matter their age. Take a short walk during your visit, admire the gardens in the community, pot plants together, or watch birds.

Read more: Visitation at Otterbein’s communities >>

nursing home visits playing cards

Checking in During Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Visits

Although the main focus of your visit will probably be to enjoy time with your loved one, stopping by can help you spot any potential issues and ask the staff about your concerns. 

Give your loved one and their home or apartment a quick, discreet check. Is it as clean as expected? Is the laundry being done (if that’s part of their services)? Is your loved one at an appropriate weight? 

If you discover signs of problems, or your loved one tells you about an incident, report your concern to a staff member — especially if it’s a critical problem. Building a good relationship with the nursing staff can also make getting problems corrected easier in the future. 

Two senior women smile and spend time together in assisted living

Set Aside Your Previous Nursing Home Experiences

Many people avoid visiting a loved one who’s in assisted living or skilled nursing. It’s not because they don’t want to see the person, but because they harbor negative memories or stereotypes of nursing homes.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions. First, assisted living and skilled nursing communities are not the same as they used to be. Instead of a more institutional setting, you’ll commonly discover a home-like environment with shared living areas set up like a family room you’d have in your home.

Residents typically have private suites and baths with a variety of life enrichment and wellness opportunities. These residents often lead active, social lives that may not be much different from before they moved.

If you’re still feeling uncomfortable about your visit, try to simply focus on the positive.Senior man visits his wife in assisted living You’re going to see your loved one and spend some time together — that’s all. And remember that a visit with loved ones can be a wonderful boost in a resident’s day as well as yours.

When and How Often Should I Visit?

Most residents in assisted living or skilled nursing communities relish their time with loved ones. Try to find a regular time to visit so your loved one knows when to expect you. It can make it easier to fit into your schedule as well as provide them with something to look forward to that day.

Many assisted living communities offer 24/7 access to visitors. If so, it should be easier to plan time for a visit. 

Even if you personally can’t visit as frequently as you’d like, see if other family members or friends can arrange a time to stop in. Just remember to be respectful of your loved one’s schedule — they may have their own agenda for any given day!

Improve Wellness Through Socialization

Visiting a loved one in assisted living or skilled nursing can help boost their overall wellness. We all need time to be social with others to live our best lives.

Interested in more ways you can improve your wellness? Find additional ideas you can start trying today in our free guide. Just click the image below to download the wellness guide, and get started on a path to greater well-being.

Read Nine Degrees of Wellness