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It is not uncommon for seniors living in long-term care homes 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 allow you to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities to keep minds and bodies strong and active that can be enjoyed in a one-on-one setting.
One-on-one visits also provide an opportunity to develop rapport and trust with individuals, which is so important in residential care settings.
1. 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.
2. Early Morning is Best
Schedule visits for early mornings 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!"
3. Eye Contact is Important
On arrival, look your resident 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.
4. 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 conversations.
5. Reduce Background Noise
Turn off the TV and radio and close the door if loud noises are coming through.
6. 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.
7. Pay Attention to Body Language
Pay attention to your 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. 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.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.
8. 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.
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.
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.
Were they a keen gardener?
Related: Outdoor Activities
10. Offer a Gentle Massage
Offer a gentle shoulder or hand massage.
Related: Hand Massage & Nail Care
We'd love to hear your feedback!
What activities and strategies have you found to work well in one-on-one settings?
Thanks for your input and ideas