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How to Prepare Children to visit a Retirement Village

Making Retirement Village Visits with Kids a Breeze


When it comes to creating intergenerational bonds and imparting valuable life lessons, few experiences are as enriching to your children as visiting a retirement village. For many children, this might be their first encounter with the realities of ageing and their first opportunity to show compassion and respect to those from a different walk of life. 

However, without the right preparation, these visits can be overwhelming or even intimidating for your little ones. Check out our guide for parents looking to ensure that these visits are both educational and enjoyable for their young ones.


1. Start with a Conversation

Before you even set foot in a retirement village, sit your kids down and discuss what they can expect. Explain the concept of a retirement village — it’s a place where seniors live, often because they want to be around peers or require special care. 

Explain why your family is taking the time to visit the village – likely to spend time with a grandparent. Emphasise the value of elders in our society and how they hold a treasure trove of stories, wisdom, and experiences. This will ensure your children approach the visit with the requisite level of respect.


(Image courtesy of Caroline Hernandez,

2. Address Their Fears

Children might have misconceptions or fears about elderly people, largely due to unfamiliarity or portrayals in media. They might believe old age inherently equates to sickness or fragility. 

Address these fears head-on. Reiterate that everyone ages, and it’s a natural process. Ensure they understand that while some residents might have health issues, they are just regular people who have lived long and full lives.

Visiting a grandparent might make these fears all the more real for your children. If their grandparent is immobile or in ill health, you’ll need to approach the situation with even greater care so your children can be emotionally prepared for the experience.



3. Role Play

Children learn best through play. Consider role-playing a visit. Let your child pretend to be a resident while you play the visitor. This can help them practise interaction, learn the kind of questions they might ask, and become comfortable with the idea of conversing with seniors.

It can also be an excellent way to encourage your children to develop empathy skills and gain a greater understanding of seniors who are on the opposite end of the spectrum from them.

(Image courtesy of Markus Spiske,

4. Set Behaviour Expectations

As with any new experience, set clear behaviour expectations for your children. Stress the importance of being respectful, patient, and kind. 

Explain that there might be some residents with hearing issues, so they might need to speak clearly. Others might be slow in movement or thought, so patience is crucial. Remind them that it’s a privilege to be welcomed into the residents’ home.



5. Encourage Questions, But Be Prepared

Kids are naturally curious, and they’re bound to have a lot of questions, some of which might seem inappropriate to adults. For instance, they might bluntly ask someone why they’re using a wheelchair. 

It’s up to you to find the perfect balance between encouraging their curiosity and ensuring that they respect the privacy of residents. It’s also a good idea to prepare them for the possibility that some questions might not be answered, and that’s okay.

(Image courtesy of Taylor Heery,

6. Bring Along an Activity

Consider packing a simple board game, a colouring book, or even photos from a recent holiday. Activities can serve as excellent icebreakers and can help children interact with their grandparents and other residents. They can also serve as a distraction if a child becomes overwhelmed or restless.

However, you’ll need to make sure the activity you bring does not overly distract your child and prevent them from engaging with the experience properly.


7. Discuss After the Visit

Post-visit conversations are crucial. Ask your children about their impressions, feelings, and any concerns. This will help them process the experience and address any lingering fears or misconceptions. It’s also a great way to reinforce the values of compassion, empathy, and respect for the elderly.

When visiting a grandparent, your children may need some additional time to debrief and understand any changes in their relationship. For example, if their grandparents have moved to a more distant retirement village such as Living Choice, you’ll need to take the time to make them understand that they may not be able to see them as often.

(Image courtesy of Saeed Karimi,

8. Teach them the Value of Listening

Above all, teach your children the importance of listening. Everyone has a story, and seniors, in particular, have a lifetime of experiences to share. Encouraging your child to be a good listener can lead to their gathering some invaluable life lessons.

Visiting a retirement village can be a heartwarming and enriching experience for children. It imparts lessons that classroom settings or books simply cannot teach. As parents, your role is to guide and prepare them for this unique experience. With the right approach, you’re not just creating a day out for your child and allowing them to connect with their grandparents; you’re planting the seeds of compassion, understanding, and respect that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

For more information on helping your children learn from the experience of seniors, check out our guide on how to celebrate ANZAC Day with kids.

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