It is not uncommon for seniors living in assisted-living facilities to lack mental stimulation and social contact.
This is especially true for people who are loners by nature or those who have lived on their own for
a long period of time. They may choose to stay in their rooms all day and decline to participate in
One-on-One visits for the Elderly
Recreation Therapists often use one-on-one visits to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities that can keep minds and bodies strong and active.
One-on-one visits provide caregivers with the opportunity to develop rapport and trust with individuals, which is so important in residential care settings.
How to Make the Most of a One-on-One Visit:
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Prepare yourself mentally beforehand by spending a few minutes thinking about the person; try to put yourself in their shoes. Take a look at their 'Profile' form and see if there are hobbies or interests you can talk about.
Early Morning is Best
Schedule the visit for early in the morning when residents are more alert. Alternatively, visit mid afternoon after lunch and rest time. Make them feel special by sending a note: "Hi Linda, if it suits
you, I will be coming by tomorrow for a chat and a cup of tea!"
Eye Contact is Important
On arrival, look them in the eyes and give them a hug. Set the right tone with a warm greeting and then sit down in front of the resident at eye level.
If you need to, bring a 'helping hand' such as a flower, some seasonal fruit, some interesting media headlines, or a home baked biscuit. Props can trigger reminiscing and help start a conversation.
Reduce Background Noise
Turn off the TV and radio and close the door if loud noises are coming through.
Pay Attention to Body Language
Pay attention to the resident's body language as well as your own. If you are wringing your hands or looking at the clock, it sends a message that you don't want to be there. On the other hand if they are nodding off to sleep or avoiding eye contact, make an excuse and come back when the resident is more receptive.
A Change of Scenery can be a Good Thing
If your meetings are always in the bedroom, try a change of scenery. A veranda or garden setting are good alternatives.
12 Ideas for One-on-One Visits with the Elderly
1. Read Aloud
Read aloud something funny such as a poem or a joke.
2. Play Games
Play simple puzzles or board games together.
3. Enjoy Trivia
Bring along some trivia quizzes or word games.
4. Look Through Photo Albums
Look through a family photo album together or make a scrapbook album together.
5. Story Telling
Ask them to tell you a story about their life. Suggest school life, childhood friends, sports, siblings, their mother's cooking, and their pets.
6. Bring Along Magazines or Books of Interest
Find out what sorts of things were of interest to them in the past; a fisherman may enjoy looking at pictures of fish and a quilter may enjoy looking at quilt magazines.
7. Show Interest in their Culture and Background
If the resident comes from another country, get hold of a few quizzes or interesting facts about the country to talk about.
8. Listen to the Radio Together
Music, talk-back, talking books, science programs, ethnic programs.
9. Enjoy Fresh Air & Sunshine
Take a walk in the garden and reminisce about their previous life at home. Was he/she a keen gardener?
10. Offer a Gentle Massage
Offer a gentle shoulder or hand massage.
11. Be Genuine
Be genuine, your attitude will make or break a visit. If you are not there in body and soul they will sense it and become indifferent.
12. Be Patient
If the resident has advanced dementia, be prepared to repeat conversations as needed; look at pictures in the room and ask questions, admire clothes and hair.