The summer season is finally here and this is the time to take your loved one that has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease outside to enjoy the fresh air, nature and the wonderful sunshine. Whether it be gardening or going out for a drive it can be very beneficial for your loved one to get out of the house. Here are a few examples of things you can try.
If your loved one loved to garden give them a small flower box, put it on a table or bench for easy access and have them assist with putting in the soil, even if it is a cup at a time. Give them a few choices of flowers to plant and assist them, as needed. After watering put the box in an area that your loved one can easily enjoy. If they are able to care for it, your loved one may still need reminders to water, weed and pinch off the dead blossoms. The key thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it is the act of doing and memory that you are making for yourself that is important! Plus this can be a memory that blooms and grows all summer.
If your loved one used to love to travel take them for a drive, even if it is a short one. Just the act of getting out and seeing news things can be an enjoyable experience. Try taking a drive around the neighborhood. Let them decide which way to go and which memories that they are going to recall. Who knows, you may end up driving around the block several times, but so what? As long as they are enjoying the outing that is all that matters.
We all know packing for a picnic can be an all day project. Include your loved one in the planning by asking them where they would like to go for the picnic. Use this as a time to reminisce. Talk about the potato salad Grandma use to make and then make it. What about Aunt Joyce’s famous strawberry pie? Have them help packing the picnic basket, but remember you don’t have to pack a lot, just enough to make the picnic enjoyable for your loved one.
Go golfing, but take only a few clubs or just the cart onto the course. Remember your loved one may not remember if you hit a hole-in-one, but their smile from spending time with you will make you feel like you did.
Being outdoors is very important and the fresh air and activities will rejuvenate and take care of your loved one’s cabin fever. Be creative and have fun, just because someone has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia does not mean that they can no longer enjoy summer activities. Instead these activities and our expectations may have to be modified. When we do that we can make memories and moments that live for our lifetime!