For a person living with Dementia, getting out of the house and into a public place is important for their quality of life. Going outdoors gives us exposure to Vitamin D, which is vital for building strong bones and muscles. Being out in the daylight is also effective in regulating the body clock, which can help with sleeping at night. In addition, having an outing can reduce restlessness and boredom for a person with dementia.
Research has shown that the health of people with dementia who spent as little as 10 to 15 minutes of activity a day outside improved significantly. While the benefits of getting outdoors are clear, taking a person with dementia out can be challenging. In some cases, it can cause them agitation or confusion. In addition, outings can be difficult and stressful for the caregiver, particularly if the person with dementia experiences wandering behaviour, as this can be harder to control outdoors.
As dementia progresses, it can become more difficult to go outdoors. However, as a caregiver, it’s important to try to keep taking the person in your care out, while they are able.
The Benefits of Outings for People with Dementia
- People living with dementia commonly suffer from stress and agitation. Taking them outdoors can help lower stress, improve their mood, and lift their spirits.
- Exposure to sunshine can help improve sleep.
- Going out can be a great way for the person with dementia to experience what is going on in the environment around them, while adding variety to their daily routine.
- Being outdoors amongst people can reduce feelings of isolation that are common in people living with dementia.
- Going outdoors can help improve the self-esteem, confidence, and happiness of someone living with dementia.
How to Organise an Outing for a Person with Dementia
The following tips may be beneficial if you are planning an outing for someone in your care who is living with dementia.
1. Make a Plan Beforehand
Planning is key when you are considering taking someone living with dementia on an outing. It’s important to consider a number of things well in advance, such as the trip duration, timing of the activity and how you are going to travel to and from your destination. When considering these things, think about the person in your care and their routine. For example, it may suit them better to be out at a specific time of day or certain types of transport may be more appropriate for them than others. In addition, think about whether you may need the support of another care provider for the outing so that you can ask them to accompany you.
2. Prepare Everyone Involved
When you are preparing your outing, it may be necessary to contact someone who works in the location that you are visiting. It may be necessary to let them know about any special requirements or accommodations that may be required for the person in your care. In addition, talk to any friends and family members that will also be on the outing to help prepare them for what they should or should not say or do. When it comes to the person in your care, consider whether or not to tell them in advance about the outing. Some elderly people living with dementia may become anxious or irritable when they know that the event is approaching, while others will cope better if they know what is happening well in advance.
3. Stick to the Routine
When you are going on an outing with someone living with dementia, it’s important to include things that they are familiar with from their normal daily routine. For example, if the person in your care normally goes for a walk after a meal, make sure you have planned for enough time to take them for a walk after eating out. Or, if they always eat their meals at a certain time, be sure to stick to that schedule.
4. Dress Appropriately
Seniors living with dementia may become easily agitated, so comfortable clothing is advised. Wearing comfortable clothes and walking shoes for an outing will not only to reduce the likelihood of the person in your care becoming agitated, but also reduce the risk of them tripping and falling in surroundings that are unfamiliar to them.
5. Pack all Essential Items
Ensure you have packed a bag to take with you that is stocked with water, snacks, medications, medical information, and a set of extra clothing. It’s also important to include any personal items that the person in your care may find comforting such as their favourite belongings from home.
If you prepare properly, an outing with the person in your care will be an enjoyable experience for both of you. It can be an excellent way to break up the monotony of the daily routine. For more information on this article, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Brain Sparks. If you’re caring for someone with Dementia, you may find the Dementia Live® course beneficial. The course gives you the opportunity to experience what it is like to have Dementia, in order to gain a greater understanding of how the person in your care is feeling and why they may act in a certain way.