Having your little one tag along to visit grandparents in a retirement village visit may feel unnecessarily stressful. But it doesn’t have to be!
Truth is, the visit can be a fun experience that can inspire both your tot and the person you’re visiting, especially if it’s their grandparents.
The key word, however, is it can. The way you approach the visit can drastically shape the overall experience of the visit. For instance, family dynamics and environments may differ; your child may not exactly enjoy the aged care environment, their grandparent(s) may not be in the best cognitive state, and so on.
And to throw a wrench to that, some aged care facilities may also have strictly enforced rules you have to abide by and tip-toe around.By following proper procedures and being mindful of a few key things, achieving a successful visit can be a smooth sailing and easy endeavour.
Here are five things to keep in mind when visiting family with a baby.
Orient Your Child in An Age-Appropriate Manner
While many young ones thrive on spontaneity, they’re not going to be enthusiastic about every activity you involve them in. This is especially true if the environment is uncomfortable, unstimulating, or unfamiliar to them.
As such, it’s best to inform them about the upcoming visit to your intended resident village like the Living Choice over 50's community in an age-appropriate manner so that they’ll know what to expect. This helps in essentially mitigating the chances of them developing pre-visit emotional outbursts or harbouring a stubborn reluctance to go there.
That said, the way you prepare your child will vary depending on your child’s age and character. For infant-aged children, prepping them isn’t the big issue—keeping them well-behaved during the visit is usually the main goal.
For toddler-aged children, tell them that you all are visiting their grandparents in a positive light. Explain to them what their grandparents are doing there, what they should do during the visit, and how to conduct themselves. Emphasise the fact that the visit is special as it’s done only on occasion and that they have to be on their best behaviour.
By keeping your child in the loop, they’ll foster a positive image of the upcoming visit, which can help in allowing both the child and their grandparents to enjoy their precious time together.
Know The House Rules
When visiting a retirement village with a baby, it's crucial to familiarise yourself with the facility's unique set of guidelines.
As you’re just guests of the place, it’s important to respect the residents of the village and their privacy. You wouldn’t want to tarnish the reputation of the person you’re visiting because of your child’s unruly behaviour.
The best way to ensure your behaviour is within the bounds of the aged centre is by reading up on the visitor policies. These policies will include places you and your family can stay, duration of stay, designated areas for children, and other relative rules.
Once you’re up to speed with these guidelines, tell your child about them and ensure that they’re on the same page too. By adhering to these rules, you can be sure that you’ll have a pleasant visit and that everyone in the village is happy too.
Mind The Host’s Health Status
It’s important to be mindful of the prevailing health of the person you’re visiting. While many retired folks are spry and mentally sound, that’s not always going to be the case.
Of course, with children being children, they may not have the capacity to understand the limited physical and mental difficulties your parent is struggling with. While it’d be great if your baby can connect with their grandparents, it’s important to also ensure that the resident of the retirement village is respected.
If the child’s grandparent has health conditions, set realistic expectations with your child so that they’ll know what to expect. Furthermore, give your grandparents a call about the upcoming visit so that they can get their medical needs sorted out before you all visit. It’s also important to know when to postpone a trip if something goes wrong, like if you or your child gets sick.
Furthermore, be mindful of the energy levels of the elderly individual. Children can be energetic at times, and it’s important to recognise when to call it a day and leave the premises.
This way, you won’t compromise the health of your elderly host while still ensuring everyone’s needs are met during the visit.
Ensure Everyone’s Comfortable
Visiting a retirement home can be fun once in a while, but it’s understandable for children to feel bored when you’ve established a frequent visiting routine.
As such, it’s important to have tools on hand that can readily keep your tot occupied. For instance, you can bring along some toys, books, or snacks that your child can use when you and your parents want to speak longer. You can also bring accessories like pacifiers or bottles if you want your tot to nap.
Besides these items, you should also consider the needs of the elderly person you’re visiting. If they’re sensitive to loud noises and unruly behaviour, respect their boundaries and limit the child from visiting until they grow older.
By respecting the desires of both parties, you can make the visit more tolerable and enjoyable for everyone—including yourself.
The great thing about visiting a retirement village with a baby is the intergenerational aspect of it. Having two family members of different age groups interact for the first time is a special and momentous occasion, and you should act as the intermediary bridge between the two different parties.
To start, be sure to mould the best behaviour in your child before stepping into the retirement village. Give them an appropriate amount of age-appropriate debriefing and tell them to be cordial with not just the primary host, but any other senior who wants to interact with them as well.
Secondly, try to be proactive in sparking conversations between the two parties. If your child isn’t capable of speech yet, attempt to create a bond through other means, like through play or touch.
Should there be a situation where one party feels disinterested or uncomfortable, you don’t have to force a connection. Be sensitive to the comfort levels of each individual and respect that, but similarly, do try to foster a connection when the opportunity presents itself too.