Staying Connected: Fun Activities to Do With a Loved One in a Nursing Home

Family dinners, a helping hand cleaning and/or bringing groceries are just a few things that may have made you feel needed and connected to your aging loved one. What do you do if that loved one is now staying in a nursing home? When senior living communities step into provide care for older adults, sometimes their loved ones may start to feel a sense of disconnect. How do you maintain and build upon that loving connection while also entrusting their needs to a capable professional staff?

Allow yourself to understand that there are resources that a nursing facility can give your loved one that you may not be capable of, especially if long-term. Understanding this will allow you to focus on providing the fun and caring smiles that keep you connected – maybe even more! Spending time with a loved one in a nursing home is one of the most valuable expressions of love that you can give. Here are a few fun ways to make the most of your visit:

Get Outside

A common feeling reported in nursing homes and care facilities is “cooped up” or “stir crazy.” And who can blame the people who are getting fidgety? Too much time spent in one place can make anyone irritable and tired. Going outside for a walk, taking your loved one to a park nearby, or just sitting together in an outdoor patio area can be reinvigorating. A change of scenery is helpful for anyone, especially someone in a long-term care facility who may feel like their days are getting monotonous.

Bring a Pet

With the permission of care home staff, a well-behaved pet can be a great visitor for your loved one. If they don’t have a pet of their own, are an animal lover, or are just seeking something new to do, they may enjoy the simple joys of petting a dog or watching a cat chase around a laser.

Game Night

When it’s time for a visit, bring over a board game or puzzle that you think might be interesting for both of you, or call ahead to see if your loved one has any games they own and would like to play. If you don’t own any board games yourself and their supply is limited, or the board games went into the donation bin when your loved one moved, think outside the box and improvise. Many libraries rent out popular games such as Monopoly, Clue, and Jenga.

What’s Cooking?

Making a meal is a great activity to do with a loved one. Not only do you both get to eat something tasty, but you also get to bond over a recipe that is special to the two of you. An extra tip: Make extra helpings of the meal so you can leave some leftovers to refrigerate or freeze for the next time your loved one wants to enjoy your cooking. Finish the meal with dessert — bring along their favorite flavor of ice cream or another surprise you know they’ll enjoy.

Book Club

Another simple suggestion is spending time together over books. Whether you bring your loved one books on tape, read aloud to them, or even start your own “book club,” books are a fantastic distraction from the boredom that can come with routine. This is one of the more rewarding activities in a nursing home because it can expand to include anyone. Other family members and friends — and sometimes even other community members — might want to join the book club and participate in the fun.

Home Theater

A home theater experience can be as simple as watching TV in the same room, or it can be elaborate. You can set up a “cinema” with popcorn, candy, comfy blankets and pillows, and dimmed lights or utilize the nursing home media room if there is one. However you set it up, it can be an entertaining activity to bond over old favorites or new surprises. If you have access to a media player that is portable or a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, consider sharing DVDs or login information so that your loved one has something new to watch.

(Not-so) Extreme Makeover

When’s the last time your loved one got a makeover or indulged in a spa session? You don’t need to be a masseuse or nail technician to help out. When they are regularly being dressed or bathed by nursing home staff, sometimes it’s easy for people in care homes to miss the extra feeling of being “dressed up” in the ways they once enjoyed. Consider bringing supplies for a “spa day,” doing your loved one’s nails, bringing them a new outfit, or offering something specific like a hand massage or deluxe hair wash. It can make a world of difference when someone feels like they’re looking their best.

Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts are ideal activities in a nursing home. They are adaptable to any skill level, endless in variety, brain-engaging, and fun! Pinterest has many ideas for crafts, from simple to advanced. Many art supplies are commonplace, meaning you can even improvise with things you can find around the nursing home. If your loved one enjoys knitting, crocheting, or another handicraft, consider asking for tips, or read up on the hobby yourself. When it’s time for a visit, you can discuss their work with them.

News, News, News

Just because someone feels more distanced from the “outside world” they’re used to doesn’t mean they have to feel isolated. Bring your loved one a copy of the local newspaper, show off photos and videos you’ve taken recently, and keep them up to date on family news and events. A little communication can go a long way.

Cultural Connection

The arts are a great bridge to conversation and connection. Being able to only do certain activities in a nursing home, or living in a long-term care community farther away from potential sightseeing, doesn’t mean that you can’t experience global culture. Many art museums now have online virtual tours or exhibit displays, and there are traveling art exhibits in many communities that bring the arts to you. Music can also spark great discussions. Listening to music they enjoy — or sharing music you enjoy — can bring you both closer together. And both of these ideas involve simply bringing your laptop, phone, or tablet!

Are You Looking For a Nursing Home?

Sometimes, nothing is as wonderful as spending time with loved ones. These activities in nursing homes are a great jumping-off point for new things to do as your family member or friend gets comfortable in their new care community. 

If you’re just starting the process of searching for a caring and comfortable environment, and your loved one is looking for nursing homes near Langhorne, PA, our well-trained and knowledgeable staff here at Pickering Manor are here to help you with the process. Our nursing home is around Yardley, PA. We’ll bring the expertise and the compassion that you need for a loved one. 

Whether they choose to live in one of our more independent cottages, apartments, personal care, memory care or need more hands-on care like our skilled nursing, anything on this list can be made accessible, manageable, and most importantly, fun! If you have loved one(s) in a nursing home, especially those who’ve recently moved in or are getting bored of their routines, pick one of these activities and start making some memories today!

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