When Visiting Relatives with a Senior
Visiting relatives may be a lot of extra work for seniors and their caregivers.
Relatives may not understand the difficulties your loved one has in mobility or in enduring hours of travel and interaction. They may not understand that it takes planning and packing to load Granny and her wheelchair into the car packed for any medical or safety emergency.
Probably, they have never experienced the problems caused when Granny’s wheelchair can’t go up their relatives’ front steps or through their front door. They may not realize that leaving familiar surroundings may be quite upsetting for an elderly person with dementia. Perhaps visitors do not realize that the loved one needs to stay on a medication schedule and to rest during the day. They don’t have the experience and concerns that you have as a caregiver for a senior, particularly one with health problems. So, they don’t anticipate the problems that you can foresee when they suggest that you travel to their home to visit for the day.
However, you probably know the limitations of your loved one. You probably have an idea of how she would react to making a long drive, to noise and unfamiliar places, to long hours without much rest, and to any interruption to the routine.
You’re likely to be torn between wanting to go see relatives, but not wanting to cause exhausting disruptions and inconveniences. You hate to turn them down, but what’s the solution?
One Possible Solution
One possible solution is to invite just a few of your relatives to visit on different days at your place, and to choose the time and duration of the visit. Tell them that you are trying to accommodate them, and ask them to be considerate about what the loved one can handle in terms of her health and energy.
Instead of having to provide a complete meal for the relatives, ask them to bring some sandwiches, or just chips and beverages, and to eat in the kitchen. Ask them to help you clean up, and to supervise their children in the house or yard. Emphasize to them that you want to have them experience a pleasant time with Granny, and not wear her out needlessly. That goes for you too. You don’t need extra housekeeping or meal preparation work. Make it clear that you and Granny have a schedule and routine to keep. You would like for the visit to be pleasant for everyone.
Another idea for an upcoming visit by the relatives is to move the location out of your home. Plan ahead when visiting relatives by reserving a party room or a meeting room at a public facility or restaurant that is near your home. You may find a room available for reservation at a restaurant, a VFW hall or fraternal lodge, or a community’s recreation center. All the relatives who attend can share the cost of reserving the room and can pay for their own meal. Here, there’s no reason for you to do all the housekeeping or meal preparation. The entrances, restrooms, and parking spaces would be handicapped accessible in public facilities. You and Granny can come and go when you need to do so. Relatives can stay and socialize as long as they want.
It’s the People not the Place
There are a lot of opportunities to make happy memories while visiting relatives. The place is not important; the people are the reason for the visit. Think ahead and consider how to best conserve your health and physical energy during a visit. Ask your visitors to do their part to make the experience comfortable and enjoyable for you, for the senior, and for all who attend.
Have a pleasant visit together!