Assisted Living: Encouraging Family Visits

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Encouraging Family Members to VisitDear Maryellen,

We recently moved my mother to an assisted living community after several years of struggling to keep her safe in her own home. I thought we could count on friends and family to visit her there. But she has had surprisingly few visitors since she moved in. What can we do to encourage people to visit?  -Sharon

Dear Sharon,

The transition to assisted living often takes a few months for residents, as well as for their families. People may be reluctant to visit for a variety of reasons and I suspect one might be fear. Many people think assisted living is just a fancy name for a nursing home and there are still many outdated, negative stereotypes about nursing homes.

I would recommend a few quick ideas to help friends and family overcome their initial fears and encourage family visits:

• Host a House Warming party for her. It will be a chance for her to show off her new home. Some of the staff will probably be willing to provide tours for guests. You might want to consider reserving additional space at the community to serve refreshments.  The dining staff may even be able to help coordinate food.

• Get family members involved in the community in other ways. For example, encourage one of your children or your sibling’s children to volunteer to teach residents how to use an iPad or how to Skype with their loved ones. If a family friend plays the piano or another instrument, they may be willing to donate their time to play for residents.

• Invite friends and family for lunch or dinner. Check the menu at the community and time your invitation to coordinate with a loved one’s favorite foods. Or, in some assisted living homes there are private dining rooms available to reserve for family functions.

• Include loved ones in activities and events. The Bristal communities have an abundance of daily life enrichment activities. Encourage your mom to invite her friends to play cards on game day or to join her for a resident outing.

If you can help friends and loved ones see how enjoyable life at an assisted living community is they will be more comfortable visiting on a regular basis.

Best Regards,

Posted by:

Over the course of more than thirty years, Maryellen has distinguished herself in the field of Assisted Living, and has maintained a particular focus on enhancing operations in Independent and Enriched Housing Management. At times, Maryellen has simultaneously overseen over 29 communities throughout the Northeast. She was awarded Administrator of the Year in 1990 by the Empire State Association – being recognized for upholding quality care, compassion and high professional standards – and has become a visible and respected authority in the field. Throughout her tenure with the Association, she has also co-chaired its Assisted Living Services Committee along with its Conference Committee. Maryellen joined Engel Burman in 2001 and helped establish Ultimate Care NY, LLC, the team responsible for the development, construction and daily management of twelve upscale Assisted Living communities grouped under the well-known and highly respected name of The Bristal. A committed advocate and sought after speaker for the cause of senior living issues, Maryellen has served on the Board of ESAAL (Empire State Association of Assisted Living) since 2002, and today, she continues to play high-profile roles in many of the Association’s most important initiatives and influential committees.