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Summer Vacation: 5 Tips for Visiting Grandparents in Senior Living

July 9, 2019

A grandmother and granddaughter eating ice pops outside at a table with a red and white checkered table cloth.

Summer vacation for many kids means spending an extended amount of time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. For you, the adult, this may harken back to summer nights spent chasing fireflies in your grandparent’s front yard, baking cookies in the kitchen, building a bonfire or heading off to the town fireworks display. If your kids’ grandparents have recently moved into a senior living community, it’s easy to feel sad at first that your kids aren’t going to have the same experience you did. But guess what? Visiting grandparents in senior living can be just as much fun – if not more so –  as those long-ago summer nights.

“Senior living communities are actually a great place for kids to visit,” says Veronica Rudychev, Executive Director of Heartis Village North Shore, an Assisted Living and Memory Support community in Glendale, WI. “It may seem like an oxymoron at first – after all, aren’t these communities for older people? But visiting a senior living community can be a little bit like going to a resort or a fun hotel for a kid. There are lots of activities, great food and a whole lot more. Plus, since the grandparents don’t have to worry about chores, keeping up the house or planning meals, they can spend all their time on what they love best – being with their grandkids.” 

5 Tips for Visiting Grandparents in Senior Living

Whether your kids will be visiting their grandparents in senior living for the first time or if this is old hat for them, here are some ways to make the visit as enjoyable and fun as possible

  1. Do your research.

Do you live in town and want to just stop by for the day? Or are you planning an extended visit across the country? No matter what you’re planning, be sure to do your research ahead of time so the visit will be successful. First of all, talk to your parents and find out what would be the best time for them. Now that they’re in a senior living community, their routine may be completely changed from what you remember. Instead of puttering around the house all day, they may have a very full schedule as well as events or trips that need to be planned around. You’ll also want to find out what the community policies and age requirements are with regards to visitors. There may be restrictions in place for how long people under a certain age can stay. More than likely, you’ll find that well-behaved grandchildren are welcomed with open arms, but it’s better to ask before making plans.

2. Plan activities on campus…

There’s always something going on at a senior living community. Fitness classes, arts and crafts, lectures, games … there’s a little bit of something for everyone, and it’s possible there may be some fun activities that the younger generation might enjoy. Talk with your parents or the community staff to see what sort of kid-friendly activities are going on during your stay.

Don’t forget about the simple fun of hanging out at home. Grandparents will have their own private living space (if they’re in independent living, it might not be a whole lot different from life at their old home, just in a different setting). Have the kids always enjoyed making cookies? Well, if the kitchen has an oven, that’s something you can still do together. Board games, puzzles, reading books together, snuggling up and watching a movie, making finger puppets and putting on a show … there are all sorts of things that grandparents and grandchildren can do together no matter where they live.

Don’t forget about the amenities available at the senior living community. Is there a pool that has “open swim” that the kids could attend? Are there gardens and open paths that kids can hike (or run around) on? Little ones often need a chance to burn off some excess energy, and getting some exercise is just the way to do it.

3. … and off campus.

Is there a nearby children’s museum, park or other kid-friendly attraction that the grandkids would enjoy seeing or doing? What about a petting zoo, or even a Home Depot where grandkids could go for a weekend craft session? There may be some fun summer festivals, events or opportunities that could be a special treat for the whole family. Bonus: it’s possible that, with advance planning, the senior living community can help schedule transportation to and from events, meaning that grandparents wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle and stress of driving or parking.

4. Do what you’ve always done.

We’re guessing that this trip won’t be the first time the grandkids have gone to visit grandparents. Sure, they may be in a different location now, but that doesn’t change the traditions and relationships you have. Is there a special “get ready for bedtime” tradition that you’ve always done? What about reading a favorite book together? By carrying on the familiar fun or comforting things grandparents and grandkids have always done together, it will make the transition seem a little less foreign and more like a natural step in life.

5. Be flexible.

Remember the old saying about the best-laid plans? Keep an open mind and be flexible when things pop up (and they will). Grandparents may be too tired or not well enough to do everything on a visit, or the grandkids could be acting up simply because their brother or sister looked at them the wrong way. Adjust plans accordingly and remember that what you do isn’t what’s the most important thing … it’s that you’re doing it together.

“The bonds between grandparents and grandchildren are incredibly special, and it’s something that should be nurtured and preserved,” says Veronica. “We love seeing grandchildren visit their grandparents at Heartis Village North Shore, and we’ll do everything we can to make the visit a special one for you and your loved ones.” 

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about Heartis Village North Shore, our Assisted Living services or our signature A Knew Day® Memory Support programming, we’d love to hear from you. Just call 414-914-2781. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences and tips in our comments section. 

Offering Assisted Living and A KnewDay® Memory Support, Heartis Village North Shore in Glendale, WI, has a unique perspective on senior living that not only changes minds, it changes lives.

At Heartis Village North Shore, we believe that moving to a senior living community is a natural step in the journey of life – one that should be celebrated. After all, while one may need care to continue living an independent lifestyle, the desire to lead a full, active and meaningful life doesn’t diminish. This is why we provide an enriching lifestyle where it’s our purpose and pleasure to help residents Be inspired. Every Day!

Offering one- and two-bedroom floor plans, studio apartments and the security and peace of mind of 24-hour support complemented by award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living®, farm-to-table dining, using fresh, flavorful and nutritious ingredients, programming designed around the seven dimensions of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, occupational and environmental and so much more, Heartis Village provides our residents with the best of both worlds – the exceptional care they need with the inspiring lifestyle they deserve.