We want our parents or grandparents to be happy in their living arrangements after they’ve moved into assisted living. And we want to spend time with them, but real life is full of change and surprises and our residents want meaningful engagement.

There are the old standbys of eating a meal together or talking in their room or a sitting area. But you run out of things to say. There are also your children to consider. How do you help them to connect with their grandparents? They all want more time with family members.

Below are some suggested activities to help you enjoy each other’s presence and build memories.

Obviously, the degree to how you do these activities are dependent upon your loved ones mental and physical capabilities.

Here we go:

Look at Photos

Photos are a great conversation starter. With new photos, you can catch them up on what’s going on with your life and the life of your family. It’s even better if you can show them on a bigger screen — like a laptop or iPad.

With old print photos, try to find out the story behind the pictures if you don’t already know them. Ask about the people or places in the pictures — how did they meet, what were they like, what did they like to do together  what was it like to travel to this place.

Video Chat

If your brothers or sisters live out of state and can’t visit as often as they’d like, use video conferencing like FaceTime or Facebook video. You can also use other free services like Zoom or Join Me. They’ll be able to see and hear their family member. And usually the sound is better than what they’d hear on a phone. This could include video chatting with their own siblings if you can make arrangements on the other end.

Take a Class

Check out a local senior center or adult education facility to see if there is a class you can take with your loved one. You can learn together once a week and have something interesting to talk about.

Participate in One of their House Activities

One afternoon my wife and I went to my mother-in-law’s assisted living home for an activity where we learned a lot about the other people in her facility. All of the people in the facility had Alzheimer’s and the program revolved around what careers the residents had during their working years.

One lady was a partner in a well-known jewelry store in the city. Another resident was a DJ on American Bandstand. It was fascinating to see where they were they came from.

Go to a Sporting Event

This could be a local high school game or games your kids are playing in. Make sure everyone is dressed for the elements and have water if it’s warm outside. You can always leave if your loved one is growing weary.

Take to Religious Service

A lot of senior communities have religious services in house but if your loved one has their own religious community they’ve been a part of for a long time, make the effort to go as often as you can. This will help them connect with old friends and experience some familiarity.

Enjoy Live Music

Check local event calendars to see what kind of live music is taking place. Many parks in the area have outdoors concerts during the summer. You can also check local churches or music venues that have concerts, too.

Get Some Fresh Air

Our facilities have places outdoors where you can sit and enjoy some time in the shade at some lounge chairs or tables. Also, our houses are in neighborhoods or close to downtown Parker, so explore places nearby on foot. You can push their wheelchair if they aren’t able to walk long distances.

Take Them on Short Outings

Check out event calendars on local websites to see if there are activities that would be interesting to you and your loved one. Try to experience something new and different.

Give a Manicure

Pampering your loved one with a manicure or pedicure is a great way to spend time and show them you care. They’ll love the look of their nails and appreciate the time together. And you can end the activity with a nice hand or foot massage with lightly scented lotion.

Read aloud

This can be a great activity, especially for those who have vision impairment. Take some time to read familiar books. Magazines can be a good choice, too, because the information is more current.

Play Games or Do a Puzzle

Playing games can be a good way to involve kids in the visit with your loved one. Even if your loved one can’t participate, they’ll enjoy just being able to spend time with you and your kids.

Your presence is what your loved wants, even if you’re not talking the whole time. Try out some of these activities and make your own twists on them to make a connection and build memories.

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