Planning a day trip for someone living with dementia may seem like a challenge, but is well worth it for the extensive benefits it can provide your loved one. With more museums, cafes, and parks becoming dementia friendly, you can have peace of mind that your day will run smoothly and be as safe and comfortable as possible for your loved one. Here we explore just some of the many benefits of venturing out with your loved one.
Health Benefits of the Outdoors
Being outdoors presents a whole host of benefits for both physical and mental well-being. For someone living with dementia, the outdoors can help in a variety of ways. As well as getting a dose of vitamin D, which can help to keep bones and joints strong, being outside during the day can help to improve mood, sleep and reduce stress. The outdoors can also bring about a sense of freedom, helping to improve your loved ones sense of self and independence, which you can take advantage of by choosing a time and location where there isn’t likely to be a crowd.
When planning an excursion outdoors it’s important to consider the activities which your loved one may be able to take part in. Simply going for a walk can provide gentle exercise which can help to maintain strength and mobility whilst simultaneously improving mood. Gardening is another great activity for someone living with dementia as it gives them to opportunity to create new life and see the results of their work. There are a number of ways to pass time outdoors, whether it be in a park or beach; you can incorporate dementia and Alzheimer’s games and activities in a variety of different settings.
Taking a day trip with other people can provide numerous social and communication benefits for someone living with dementia. It can be a perfect opportunity to involve group activities which bring about a sense of friendship and belonging. Group trips and activities can improve social skills, help bonding and lift spirits.
A fantastic idea for a group outing would be a small petting zoo or farm where the animals can be approached or even held. This connection with animals and other people will help to significantly improve mood and encourage conversations.
Day trips can also bring with them the opportunity for reminiscence and evoking memories. Reminiscing has been proven to have a variety of benefits for those living with dementia as it allows them to recall past experiences and share happy memories, bringing with it a sense of accomplishment and happiness.
To encourage reminiscence, visit somewhere familiar to your loved which holds happy memories for them. This could be anywhere from the street they grew up on, a park they used to visit or even a holiday destination which was a family favorite.
Museums are also a fantastic place for encouraging reminiscence, especially if they incorporate time periods familiar to your loved one. When visiting museums, make sure to consider which time of day is least crowded and if mobility access is required plan this in advance.
When you are looking to plan a day trip for someone living with dementia, do bear in mind that certain arrangements may be needed to make the day run as smoothly as possible, but the benefits far outweigh the organisational aspect. A day trip, whether it be to a place which can spark memories or to somewhere that encourages socialization, is truly a valuable experience for someone living with dementia.
For more information on how to help a senior with dementia, refer to the Family Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's & Dementia.