Frequently children and elders don't know how to be together. If the elder's health is failing or confusion is setting in, children might feel frightened. Elders may have forgotten the experiences of childhood and not be able to relate in a way that make children feel comfortable.
Answer: one way of smoothing a visit is to do activities that everyone can enjoy together. Try a simple card game or board game or a craft activity that all can enjoy. Is your parent skilled at a particular craft? Perhaps he or she can teach it to the children. Find a skill each child would like to learn and schedule quality time to learn it. Even a person with beginning and mid stage dementia can teach skills that are ingrained in their mind and body. You want to check on the day of the teaching to make sure that your parent is ready and up to the task. Be alert to any frustration occurring and be prepared to break for a snack or for the day. A successful teaching session is great for the self esteem of all involved. If your parent has any dementia and has difficulties expressing himself, be sure to remain at hand to gently help with verbal explanations. (Difficulty finding words is a frequent symptom in dementia and particularly frustrating.)
One grandfather who was a retired jeweler, taught his granddaughter the art of pearl stringing and knotting. With his mechanically minded grandson, he took apart a mechanical clock.
One woman who was a retired educator with dementia. She could give people she knew insightful advice about teaching issues while asking them if she ever met them before.