Living with dementia or Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to interfere with summertime activities. While there are some activities not suitable for everyone, use these tips to create an Alzheimer’s summer fun plan to help build connectivity and lasting memories for your whole family.
Routine is key. For individuals with Dementia, try to schedule outings after breakfast, but before lunch. Be sure to allow plenty of time for an afternoon nap or some time to rest. Whatever the plan, be prepared to follow regular mealtimes and medication schedules.
Be Zen. Choose a tranquil and familiar location for your activity. It’s important to remember that altered senses, such as impaired depth perception or hearing, may have an impact on your loved one while you are out. And when having conversations, rather than trying to lead a conversation, perhaps focus on listening and affirmation with friends and family suffering from memory loss.
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. Do you have a dog? Bring it with! Animals are therapeutic.
Smooth transitions. Over-exhaustion isn’t good for anyone. Make sure that you are home by dusk and that you turn the lights out to avoid “Sundowner’s Syndrome,” which can result in argumentative and uncooperative behavior.
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 tennis. 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. Head to the ball field and just observe or casually hit a tennis ball back and forth – net or no net!
Make a splash. If your loved one enjoys splashing around and soaking up the sun, find a rec or fitness center with an elderly friendly warm pool. Call ahead to see when there are fewer crowds.
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 biggest goal no matter the activity is to help your loved ones feel successful. It’s important for them to have fun, laugh, or smile. And when in doubt, utilize the five senses.