Written by Active Minds on Thursday the 4th of July 2019.
Getting outdoors is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle; not only does it help to improve our mood, but it also provides a vital dose of vitamin D which is essential for our bone health. As an addition to the outdoors helping with our physical health, mental wellbeing can also be improved.
Getting outdoors and experiencing fresh air is especially important for those living with dementia as a way to manage agitations and anxieties, as well as helping to improve mood. There are a number of outdoor activities which are ideal for those living with dementia. Here we will explore five activities which can provide highly engaging experiences along with a variety of health and wellbeing benefits for someone living with dementia.
Whilst strenuous exercise may no longer be possible, light and gentle exercise is still important to achieve. Exercise is important for everyone and can really lift your spirits and provide a sense of achievement and accomplishment, and the same goes for someone living with dementia. Why not see if there are any outdoor exercise classes available which are suitable for your loved one, such as chair exercise or yoga.
Gardening can give your loved one a chance to rebuild their connections with nature and the outdoors. As we age our senses can deteriorate and as such it is important to take part in activities which explore a variety of different senses, of which gardening is ideal for. Exploring activities such as planting flowers together can be perfect for using the sight, smell and touch senses all at once.
Going for a walk may seem simple, but it can be a highly effective way for reducing stress and getting gentle exercise. There are a number of ways to incorporate other activities into your walk which can make it even more engaging.
Nature walks are a brilliant way to involve sensory exploration, it allows your loved one to connect with nature by playing games, examining plants or animals and generally appreciating the environment. Another way to use walking as part of a wider activity is to take a memory walk; go somewhere familiar to your loved one and encourage conversations surrounding the place. This can be highly beneficial for sparking memories and improving mood.
For those living with dementia, communication difficulties can sometimes lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Getting involved in community or group events can be a great way to combat this. In many communities there are specific dementia friendly events such as group exercise classes or walks. Combining group and outdoor activity can be highly beneficial for those living with dementia as it allows them to reap the benefit of socialisation alongside the benefits of being outdoors.
Animal therapy is the process of spending time around animals to help reduce stress and anxiety along with building connections and reducing loneliness. This can include activities such as bringing older and calmer dogs or cats in to care homes, but can also include taking a day trip to an animal farm. Spending time with animals in the outdoors can be highly relaxing and brilliant for improving mood. There are a number of farms and animal sanctuaries which hold dementia friendly events, and if there isn’t a specific event local to you it is always worth calling to see if they can accommodate your loved ones needs.
There are a wide variety of outdoor activities which are suitable for those living with dementia. As spending time in the outdoors is so important for our health, it is important to explore these activities with your loved one and choose those which suit their personality and abilities.