It is not uncommon for seniors living in assisted-living facilities to lack mental stimulation and social contact.  Recreation Therapists often use one-on-one visits to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities that can keep minds and bodies strong and active.
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It is not uncommon for seniors living in assisted-living facilities to lack mental stimulation and social contact.

This is especially true for people who are loners by nature or those who have lived on their own for a long period of time. They may choose to stay in their rooms all day and decline to participate in programmed activities.

Related: 15 Activities for Loners and Introverted Seniors

One-on-One visits for the Elderly

Recreation Therapists often use one-on-one visits to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities that can keep minds and bodies strong and active.

One-on-one visits provide caregivers with the opportunity to develop rapport and trust with individuals, which is so important in residential care settings.

How to Make the Most of a One-on-One Visit:

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Prepare yourself mentally beforehand by spending a few minutes thinking about the person; try to put yourself in their shoes. Take a look at their 'Profile' form and see if there are hobbies or interests you can talk about.

Early Morning is Best

Schedule the visit for early in the morning when residents are more alert. Alternatively, visit mid afternoon after lunch and rest time. Make them feel special by sending a note: "Hi Linda, if it suits you, I will be coming by tomorrow for a chat and a cup of tea!"

Eye Contact is Important

On arrival, look them in the eyes and give them a hug. Set the right tone with a warm greeting and then sit down in front of the resident at eye level.

Use Props

If you need to, bring a 'helping hand' such as a flower, some seasonal fruit, some interesting media headlines, or a home baked biscuit. Props can trigger reminiscing and help start a conversation.

Reduce Background Noise

Turn off the TV and radio and close the door if loud noises are coming through.

Pay Attention to Body Language

Pay attention to the resident's body language as well as your own. If you are wringing your hands or looking at the clock, it sends a message that you don't want to be there. On the other hand if they are nodding off to sleep or avoiding eye contact, make an excuse and come back when the resident is more receptive.

A Change of Scenery can be a Good Thing

If your meetings are always in the bedroom, try a change of scenery. A veranda or garden setting are good alternatives.

12 Ideas for One-on-One Visits with the Elderly

1. Read Aloud

Read aloud something funny such as a poem or a joke.

Related: Poems to Share and Jokes for the Elderly

2. Play Games

Play simple puzzles or board games together.

Related: Games for Seniors

3. Enjoy Trivia

Bring along some trivia quizzes or word games.

Related: Word Games and Trivia

4. Look Through Photo Albums

Look through a family photo album together or make a scrapbook album together.

Related: Recycled Magazine Scrapbooks

5. Story Telling

Ask them to tell you a story about their life. Suggest school life, childhood friends, sports, siblings, their mother's cooking, and their pets.

Related: Reminiscing Activities for Seniors

6. Bring Along Magazines or Books of Interest

Find out what sorts of things were of interest to them in the past; a fisherman may enjoy looking at pictures of fish and a quilter may enjoy looking at quilt magazines.

7. Show Interest in their Culture and Background

If the resident comes from another country, get hold of a few quizzes or interesting facts about the country to talk about.

Multicultural Activities

8. Listen to the Radio Together

Music, talk-back, talking books, science programs, ethnic programs.

9. Enjoy Fresh Air & Sunshine

Take a walk in the garden and reminisce about their previous life at home. Was he/she a keen gardener?

Related: Outdoor Activities

10. Offer a Gentle Massage

Offer a gentle shoulder or hand massage.

Related: Hand Massage & Nail Care

11. Be Genuine

Be genuine, your attitude will make or break a visit. If you are not there in body and soul they will sense it and become indifferent.

12. Be Patient

If the resident has advanced dementia, be prepared to repeat conversations as needed; look at pictures in the room and ask questions, admire clothes and hair.

Good Luck!

We'd love to hear your feedback!
What activities and strategies have you found to work well in one-on-one settings?


Remya 28th Apr 2016
I tried playing word games solving puzzles. Chatting with them. Some help in foldings or sorting more of a functional activity. Generally it can be 5 to 10min. But even if you had a chat it can be social and emotional support.
Jennifer 8th Jan 2014
There are no time frames under ACFI as there was under Question19 when the funding system was RCS. Obviously you cannot do a good job my saying hi and walking out the door without spending time addressing the identified issue with the client.
Morena 8th Jan 2014
to Kerry; 1:1 room visits. should be between 10 to 15 minutes.
one on one room visit / 1:1 interaction are very important part for long term resident living in facilitates. As this help to give resident a social and emotional support that may require when resident does not participate in general activities is lonely or depressed, confused, scared, angry, frustrated weepy, anxious. In this way recreational staff can implement special program or games interested to the resident and given them the opportunity to reminisce and to build on self esteem.

Bianca 22nd Dec 2013
In response to Kerry, 1:1 duration or frequency is not prescribed by the accreditation agency. A smile and a quick hello also constitutes 1:1 interaction. If a residents is specifically visited for behaviour intervention (such as identified social isolation) for any number of minutes this ought be recorded as behaviour intervention strategies rather than a 1:1 visit. This way you can evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention when you complete your Resident Of the Day, Evaluation or Review process. Thus demonstrating [for accreditation and client monitoring purposes]continuous improvement and your also ensuring you have identified your Elders corrects needs and addressed them in the appropriate fashion.
Kim 5th Dec 2013
These are terrific ideas.1on1 visits are not always easy to conduct.your suggestions give some great ideas for breaking the ice.I will certainly give them a go.Thank you.
Roslyn 4th Dec 2013
this is such a great tip, so many times i am asked how to talk to people 1-1, and its hard to just come up with the right answer on the spot. I find it very easy to talk to people, but then again i have been in this job as a DT for almost 16 years and neary 20yrs in Aged Care. Newbies could learn a great deal from this. Thanks again.
Kerry 4th Dec 2013
Can you please tell me if 1:1 visits must last at least 15 minute duration for it to be recorded as 1:1. Thanks Kerry


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