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How to Help Your Loved One with Dementia Have a Fun & Safe Summer

July 18, 2017

If you have a loved one with dementia, do you find it difficult to think of meaningful and safe activities to enjoy together? This is not uncommon - especially if dementia is new to you both. Here at Concordia, we understand that this may be difficult, but we also know that there are many ways to plan and provide appropriate activities for people with dementia, since we do this daily at our senior care facilities.

With summer here, we wanted to share ideas with you so that you can enjoy your summer, safely, with your loved one who is living with a memory impairment. 

dementia summer pic 1To start, here are some factors to consider:

- Try not to over-stimulate your loved one with constant movement and noise, as many people with dementia may become overwhelmed

- Be selective with outings involving large crowds

- Choose simple and unhurried activities to allow your loved one the time and space necessary to do as much as possible

- Break down activities into simple, manageable steps

- Focus on one thing at a time

- Prepare a safe working area including uncluttered surfaces and few distractions

- Select times that suit your loved one's best level of functioning

- Select activities that do not reinforce inadequacy

- Encourage an emotional connection

If you keep these factors in mind when coming up with activities for your loved one with dementia, you may find your experience to be a more positive one. Ultimately, what is most important for everyone is that each moment is enjoyed, even though the experience may be soon forgotten.

Here is a short list of activities you may want to consider this summer. If you have other ideas to add to this list or ones that you've tried before, please comment below. We'd love to hear from you, and we're sure others would like additional ideas and feedback, as well.

As always, be sure to consult your loved one’s healthcare professional before diving into a new diet or exercise program.

  • Gardening: Spending time breathing in and appreciating the outdoors by doing gentle gardening can be incredibly beneficial for anyone living with dementia. While gardening, you can talk about the flowers and times in your loved one’s life when they enjoyed the outdoors. 
  • Music: Simply listening to music and sharing a dance is a great way to spend time together. Even if your loved one is in a wheelchair, they can be moved around to the soft sounds of music.
  • Picnic: Choosing an activity that centers around stimulating senses, such as a picnic that focuses on taste and smell, might encourage your loved one to enjoy food and the social interaction that shared mealtimes can bring. Plus, you can encourage them to get involved with the preparation, such as making sandwiches.
  • Memorabilia: Sharing old photos or home videos with your loved one from a point of enjoyment, rather than a way to help them remember things, can be fun and entertaining. It's important to remember that even though looking through old photos, memorabilia and books can help some people recall earlier times, sometimes it does not help. Try not to be frustrated if your loved one doesn’t recall those times, and instead, enjoy sharing those moments with them again.
  • Arranging Flowers: Picking flowers and arranging them in a non-breakable vase is a fun activity to share with your loved one during the summer months. If your loved one is unable to pick flowers, you can present the flowers to them and arrange them in the vase together.
  • Gentle Outside Exercise: Encouraging gentle exercise in the fresh outdoors not only improves brain function, but helps maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stronger bones and greater strength, which can prevent falls. Exercise can be as simple as a gentle walk or perhaps a series of gentle seated activities.

If these activities seem like a great fit for you and your loved one, we hope you give them a try! Please remember that mistakes and failures will happen, but don’t let your loved one with dementia feel like a failure. Keep trying, and focus on enjoying every moment together. Have any other ideas to add to our list? Feel free to comment with them below.

Are you in need of dementia care or memory care for a loved one? If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us any time via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571. Or, visit the care levels & services page of our website to learn about the types of care we offer, including In-Home CareMemory CareLong-Term Nursing Care, Adult Day ServicesHospice Care and more.

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