Did you know taking the time to visit elder loved ones in a nursing home isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s also a way to support their health? Studies show that social isolation and loneliness have profoundly negative effects on the elderly that can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Nursing home visits can go a long way toward combating isolation, but there are also other benefits.

Nursing home residents typically love to receive visitors. Wouldn’t you? It gives them something to look forward to and keeps them engaged with the outside world. It’s also emotionally stimulating. Visits spark positive memories and lets elder residents know that people they care about still care about them. 

Remember, family members are not the only individuals who may visit. Friendly visits, from neighbors and local friends, not only offer opportunities for socialization but also offer opportunities to spot trouble. Nursing homes are supposed to be reassuring residential communities where aging loved ones spend their final years in peace and comfort. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The National Council on Aging estimates that about 1 in 10 seniors has experienced some form of elder abuse in a community setting, and as little as 1 in 14 cases are ever reported to the authorities. Always be vigilant when visiting an elder loved one or friend and make sure to look for signs of neglect as well as physical abuse. 

Another important reason to visit is that it is always a chance to gauge the elder person’s health. Busy staff members might not recognize subtle changes in physical behavior or mental acuity, and identifying early warning signs can help avoid emergencies, like a fall or stroke. It’s also helpful to discuss prescription medications and any related side effects that might cause discomfort or harm. Curious family members and friends may be the only opportunity where a senior feels comfortable to express his or her concerns.  

Finally, nursing home visits create new, enjoyable memories. Just because an aging adult lives in a long-term care facility doesn’t mean everything worthwhile in life is in the past. They can still bond with people who care about them, no matter where they are now living. There is also never a wrong time to answer questions and get the support you need in your local community. We work with Florida seniors and their loved ones each and every day, and encourage you to schedule a meeting to discuss this topic or any elder care questions you may have.