Summer comes with some additional safety concerns for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, who may be at risk of wandering off in the heat. However, if you take extra precaution and follow a few simple safety tips, there’s no reason why you and your loved one shouldn’t enjoy a fulfilling summer season together.
Sun savvy. Limit your loved one’s time in the sun. Avoid going out in the heat of the day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and when you spend time outside remind them to apply sunscreen. If they have trouble with decision making, help them dress appropriately for the weather, in light clothing with a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Make sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
Crowd control. Choose a tranquil and familiar locations for activities. Crowded activities such as fireworks, parades, or family reunions may be overwhelming. Seek ways to adapt these activities–watch fireworks from the car or make an early appearance at a social event, before most guests have arrived.
Off the beaten path. Encourage your loved one to get some fresh air by scheduling a daily walk. Keep it short and make sure to avoid busy streets or open spaces where there is too much noise and too many people. Taking your walk at the same time each day will introduce a valuable element of routine that your loved one can rely on.
Play some tunes. Music has been shown to be relaxing and calming for people with Alzheimer’s. Make a playlist with your loved one’s favorite songs and encourage them to play an instrument if they know how. Small outdoor concerts are also a great idea. Just be sure to sit toward the back and away from the loud speakers.
Memory lane. Take some time each week to reminisce. Sit on the porch or deck. Talk about family summer vacations, special trips or other summer traditions. Bring out the scrapbook or photo album if you have one. Photos and souvenirs can be very helpful for Dementia.
Hands-on. Don’t be afraid to let your loved one engage in their favorite hobbies or activities such as gardening, golf, or bike riding. If you’re looking for ways to modify these past-times, try planting a flowerbed rather than a full vegetable garden or visiting the driving range instead of the playing 18-holes. Accompany them on bike rides or consider enrolling them in a local spin class.
Suffering from memory loss doesn’t mean you can’t participate in family activities or enjoy the great outdoors. Vista Prairie Communities uses these tips in its Memory Care and Care Suites units to help residents spend quality time with family and friends without being overwhelmed. The primary goal no matter the activity is to help your loved ones feel successful and involved.