Written by Active Minds on Tuesday the 16th of July 2019.
As summer approaches there is an increase in opportunities to spend time outside, which is fantastic for exploring a variety of activities. Whilst there are many benefits to spending time in the outdoors such as improved mood and reduced stress, when living with dementia there are some considerations which should be made to ensure that your loved one is as comfortable and safe as possible.
It is important to take extra care in the hot weather to avoid things such as dehydration and heat stroke. There are some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your loved one in the summer heat such as staying out of the midday heat; typically between 11am and 3pm. Make sure to keep hydrated; set reminders to drink and leave jugs of water around the house for your loved one. When you do go outside make sure you’re prepared; apply sun protection, bring water and wear light and loose clothing.
Once you have ensured the safety of your loved one, you can explore a variety of activities which are ideal for warmer weather. These activities still involve spending time outside reaping all the benefits of the sun however they use less energy, so dehydration and exhaustion is less likely. Here we explore some top activities which are ideal for a warm summers day.
Puzzles are a chosen hobby for many as they are often equally as challenging as they are relaxing. For someone living with dementia a puzzle of a suitable level can be therapeutic and help to improve mood and gain sense of self through achievements. Puzzles are great for the summertime as they can be done anywhere; take some chairs and a table outside and set up a little puzzle area in the shade. This way your loved one can sit and complete a puzzle whilst taking in some sun and fresh air.
Gardening is a brilliant activity for those living with dementia, it can help to lower stress whilst working to improve attention span, decrease agitation and improve strength and balance. Gardening can also provide a sensory experience, so really take the time to appreciate all the sounds, sights and smells with your loved one whilst gardening.
If your loved one used to enjoy gardening as a hobby this activity can also be a fantastic reminiscence tool. Why not ask gentle questions about your family home and garden, or discuss fun times spent in the garden as children. These are excellent ways to encourage conversations and sparking memories whilst partaking in a relaxing activity they enjoy. When gardening, make sure your loved one is wearing light clothing and has applied sun protection; although it will only be gentle gardening it is important to stay hydrated and make sure that your loved one is not exerting themselves in the heat.
Scrapbooking is a brilliant activity for someone living with dementia which can take place outdoors. Why not make a nature scrapbook with your loved one? You can find interesting flowers and leaves to press and stick into a scrapbook, allowing your loved one to connect with nature whilst creating something they can keep and look back on.
This can be a highly relaxing activity which can be completed outside to really make the most of the warmer weather, you can explore and find the flowers and plants and then set up in a shaded corner to build the scrapbook together.
The warmer weather provides a brilliant opportunity to take a trip out for the day with your loved one perhaps to local parks or attractions. Why not choose somewhere familiar or special to your loved one to make it a highly rewarding day out. Familiar locations can be excellent for sparking memories and making sure the trip doesn’t cause stress or anxieties.
Before you travel do some research in to dementia friendly locations or perhaps give your chosen place a ring as they may take steps to accommodate your needs. Remember to take the essentials such as sun cream, water and loose clothing to make the day out as comfortable for your loved one as possible so you can both focus on relaxing and having fun.