Visiting elderly parents is top on many people’s list, but how often should you visit? Balancing a work/life schedule that ensures your parents are okay, yet allows them to maintain their independence is often comparable to walking a tight rope. Basing your visits on their needs is the key to maintaining a proper balance.
Detriments of Loneliness
The National Institute on Aging found that, in seniors, loneliness often contributes to health problems such as a higher systolic blood pressure and depression. Ensuring that your loved one doesn’t feel lonely also helps keep his levels of interleukin-6 at a proper level. This is an inflammatory protein that may contribute to certain diseases, including some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Frequency of Visits
Visiting elderly parents is one way to ensure that they don’t wallow in despair and loneliness. Taking their grandchildren or other friends along on the visit is another idea to combat loneliness. Consider your parents’ schedule and your own when determining how often to visit. If a family dinner on Sundays was a tradition for your family throughout the years, it is a wise idea to continue. Keeping up with these types of traditions will make your loved one feel that he or she is responsible for instilling values in the family unit.
Routines are also important in making seniors feel more secure. If you take your parents grocery shopping and to run errands on Thursday afternoons, it’s helpful to shuffle your schedule each week to continue this routine. It is often more beneficial for the senior to know when you will visit rather than surprising them randomly whenever you have a moment to spare. The scheduled visits are something that they can look forward to and plan around their own schedules.
Visits to Facilities
If your parents live in an assisted living or nursing home facility, the temptation to stop by briefly each day may be strong. You may feel need to ensure that your parents are being cared for in an appropriate manner. But keep in mind that daily visits may not suit your loved one’s schedule any more than it will suit yours. Remember that your senior may be surrounded by new friends and involved in new social activities. Check with them first, so you don’t come off as hovering.
Daily visits may be detrimental to your own work/life balance, too, even if the facility is near your home or office. Make the most of your facility visits by becoming friendly with the staff and other residents. If they know that you are a frequent and caring presence, the residents will share any concerns about your parent’s well-being. Your presence not only helps keep the staff members on their toes, it assists them in determining how to best accommodate your parent’s needs. Keep in mind that facilities have routines and schedules that enable it to function well. Avoid visiting during therapy, group activities, meals or bath time.
Whether you visit your parents once a week or more frequently depends upon how well they are coping with the aging process and all it entails. You don’t want your visits to feel intrusive; your desire is to instill confidence in your loved on that you are their number-one advocate. Listen to your parent’s verbal cues and never disregard their feelings. Visiting elderly parents is one of the best ways to ensure that the new “normal” provides a quality of living for everyone concerned.