Traveling with seniors who have dementia, like Alzheimer’s, can be a daunting thought. ‘How will I manage the outing?’ ‘What are the best places to take my loved one?’ ‘When is the right time of day for an outing?’ ‘What should I bring?’ There is a lot of planning that goes into making sure a senior living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are comfortable during an outing. That’s why we’ve put together these tips for you to plan a successful and fun day with your loved one.
Dementia Friendly Venues
Picking the right venue is crucial to a successful day out with your loved one.
Make sure the venue is accessible friendly. From seating, parking, walkways, and restrooms, these things make it easy to mitigate discomfort and stress for both you and your loved one.
Avoid crowded areas. Pick a destination that might be more of a relaxing experience. Places like, botanical gardens, museums, libraries, and outdoor parks are perfect to take your loved one. This way you can avoid the larger crowds having a comfortable environment. Plus, experiencing nature in any facet is very beneficial for slowing cognitive decline.
Memory trips. Often times seniors living with dementia lose their short and long-term memory. Taking trips to memorable or fond places can help spark memories in your loved one. Ride through a past neighborhood they lived in, visit a place of work or take them to participate in a beloved hobby. There are many ways to reignite memories, just be courteous of changes to these places and if those changes will affect your loved one.
When in doubt, ask. Having a tough time thinking of a place to go? Well, just ask what your loved one would like to do. From there, you can get an idea of what they’re in the mood for or even a location to take them too. Plus, it’s a great way to engage a senior with dementia as it stimulates the brain to think of an activity or place they’d like to go.
Time of Day
One key component of planning a day trip is the time of day. Whenever choosing a venue, try to be cautious of busy times for certain places. If the restaurant lunch rush starts at noon, maybe go a couple hours before or after to beat the crowd. If the museum is busy during the weekends, try scheduling a trip on a weekday.
Worried about the weather? Don’t sweat it. Planning a trip during a cloudy day with a chance of rain or even on a cold winter day with snow on the ground can stimulate the senses. This sensory experience can be a great mood booster while helping seniors with dementia relate that experience to a memory. Just make sure to plan accordingly for the weather.
Choosing the right time of day can make a world of difference in having a fun and meaningful day trip.
Preparation is Key
Prepare and pack all the necessary things you need to take on your day trip. Things like:
- Money for extra costs (i.e. food, water, snacks, etc.)
- Any tickets to venues like a play or movie theater
- Identification for both you and your loved one
- Medication for your loved one
- A cell phone in case of emergency or a change of plans
- Snacks, water, lunch, or whatever fits within the planned outing
- Comfortable clothing that matches the weather
- Any incontinence items that you might need
Having a packed and ready to go bag will make you and your loved one prepared for a wonderful day.
Last but not least, recording the outings is another great way to have continual success during day trips. Having a record of places or outings that have been fun and meaningful provides:
- A way for you to coordinate that same outing again.
- Lists of places that were not so successful and need to be rethought.
- Plans for a weekly or annual day trip so it gives you and your loved one something to look forward to.
Having a record of each outing will give you insight as to what your loved one enjoys and does not enjoy, making it easier to provide a meaningful day out and about.