Dementia and the great outdoors

The great outdoors: why should you help someone with dementia to go outside?

If a loved one is diagnosed with dementia your instinct will probably be to protect them and keep them safe. Going out might start to feel daunting and stressful. Isn’t it better that they stay at home where you can keep a careful watch? Well no, actually, it isn’t.

See more at: https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/the-great-outdoors-why-should-you-help-someone-with-dementia-to-go-outside/#sthash.zIVWyY6i.dpuf

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Being outdoors and traveling with dementia

This post comes from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. It’s an international collaborative formed to launch a new era of Alzheimer’s prevention research. Go ahead an check out their website when you’re done reading!

As the weather warms up, our thoughts naturally turn to outdoor activities and travel. These activities can be challenging for someone with Alzheimer’s, but they can also provide powerful ways to enrich their lives and brighten their spirits and yours. As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, though, you’ll need to plan carefully for each outing or journey.
Going Out
Getting outside can be a good activity both for someone with Alzheimer’s and for their caregiver. Some activities can be enjoyed close to home, such as taking care of (or just watering) plants in the garden or yard. If you and your person with Alzheimer’s are comfortable with it, you can also plan trips to a botanical garden, museum or art exhibit, or to the pool (at a quiet time) or park. You’ll want to plan outings for the time of day when the person is at his or her best. And, be sure to keep outings from becoming too long, since you’ll want to be careful that the person with Alzheimer’s doesn’t become tired or confused.
Travel
Travel presents special problems for someone with Alzheimer’s because it naturally takes them out of their home routines. To test whether travel is a good idea or not, you might plan a “staycation” first by spending the night at a hotel in your town or city and eating three meals out. If this experience causes the person with Alzheimer’s distress, travel may not be a good idea.
When you do travel, if you can, go with another friend or family member, and be sure to have help at the airport or train station. Bring personal items or keepsakes that you know will comfort the person with Alzheimer’s, and also be sure to have copies of important phone numbers, documents and medical records, just in case. Also, be prepared for your person to wander in the airport or train station if given the opportunity. You may want to dress him or her distinctively and to include an ID bracelet as part of the wardrobe. It’s often helpful meet with a doctor beforehand to discuss medications that may calm someone who becomes distressed.
When you arrive at your destination, try to maintain a routine as close to your home rhythm as possible: schedule meals, sleep and bathroom breaks at the same time as at home, for example. At night, be sure to have a light on in the bathroom and a clear path to get there. Leave plenty of time for rest, and don’t plan too many activities. Finally, be prepared to cut your visit short if the situation turns out to be too much for the person with Alzheimer’s.
Resources:
Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
National Institute on Aging:
Alzheimer’s Association:
Upcoming Webinar:
Dementia Dialogues: Planning Successful Travel
Just in time for summer travel, learn tactics to make your trips as successful as possible.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 3-4 pm Eastern

Caregiving at a Cookout

Caregiving at a Cookout:  Tips for a Good Time

This is a re-post from agingcare.com, a great website with plenty of ideas and resources for caregivers.

Almost everyone looks forward to gathering with family and friends for a backyard barbecue. But if you’ve been dreading going to one because of your responsibilities as a caregiver, never fear: Both you and your elderly loved one can have a fine time, if you plan ahead.

But first, make sure that your relative is in good enough health to attend a party where there will be heat, bugs, noise, smoke from the grill and possibly rambunctious children. Also, check with your hosts to ensure that they understand and can accommodate your loved one’s limitations. If not, find another caregiver to look after your relative while you attend alone; it’s important for you to socialize and recharge.

However, if your hosts are amenable and your loved one is up to it, don’t leave him or her behind. Joan Wright, a certified geriatric manager at NVNA and Hospice in Norwell, Mass., told AgingCare that you should remember that every elderly person was once young, mobile and eager to socialize. “Those desires are still there even if their physical capacity to fulfill them is not.”

Here are some tips from Ms. Wright and others to ensure that everyone has a good time:

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Garden and Grow Together

Gardening and Growing Together

This is a re-post from agingcare.com, and I hope it inspires you to get your hands a little dirtier 🙂

To grow a more meaningful and healthy connection with an elderly loved one, put on some rubber clogs and head out together to the garden.

At any age, gardening is one of the best activities we can do outdoors, several experts told AgingCare.com. It stimulates all of the senses; awakens our connection with nature and with each other; and rewards us with fresh flowers and juicy tomatoes. “It’s restorative, even if you have dementia,” says Dee McGuire, a horticultural therapist at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore.

Gardening is also an excellent way for aging bodies to get a moderate-intensity aerobic workout, shed calories and stay flexible, according to a Kansas State University study. That’s one reason why gardening remains popular with Americans well into their golden years. Indeed, about three-quarters of households age 55 or older participated in some form of lawn and garden activity in 2010, according to the National Gardening Association (NGA).

Still, there’s no question that bending, lifting, kneeling, squatting, weeding and pruning—not to mention dealing with sun, heat and bugs– all become more challenging as we grow older.

But there are ways to cope.

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Dementia Adventure – Wood if We Could

This is taken from the introduction of the Dementia Adventure’s guide to leading group adventures and visits to woodland areas for people with dementia. You can download the booklet or read it here.

The result of a partnership between the VisitWoods team at the Woodland Trust, Dementia Adventure CIC, and Tony Vale at Activity Team, this guide builds on the successful pilot project which Dementia Adventure led in 2011. This pilot was called “Wandering in the Woods”. The report, which outlines the physical, social and emotional benefits of woodland visits for people living with dementia, along with the three supporting films, is available at www.dementiaadventure.co.uk.

VisitWoods, Dementia Adventure and Activity Team shared a vision that it is possible for people living with dementia to safely and enjoyably benefit from visiting woodland. The reality for many people living with dementia in care settings is that they often have little or no access to woodland. At the same time there are some extremely committed staff and family members who are successfully enabling small groups of residents to get out into nature. We all strongly felt that there are solutions and practical resources, which if collated and shared, would lead to more people living with dementia in care settings to benefit from visiting woodland, as well as other natural spaces.

This enabling, informative and practical guide is aimed at older people and people living with dementia, who can often find themselves excluded from participating in or enjoying activity out in woodland. This adaptable and engaging resource helps to:
• Provide inspiration and information to enjoy woodland activity
• Outline the benefits of woodland activities
• Reduce the perceptions of barriers to accessing woodland
• Increase confidence in accessing woodland by sharing solutions to common barriers
• Share resources to help group leaders to visit woods
• Provides inspiration and resources to help group leaders plan visits to other green space/natural settings

The guide is also available online and the authors welcome feedback, comments and other helpful resources which we can share to keep this work relevant and up to date.

From the Director of Dementia Adventure

I came across this blog post on the Whose Shoes? blog (a suggested read on personalization in health and social care, by the way). Neil Mapes is the director of Dementia Adventure, which is pretty close to one of my ideas for normalizing dementia in tourism and creating safe places for people with dementia to go with their families on vacations. It’s a good interview with him and about the importance of his company, Dementia Adventure. By the way, Neil, if you are looking for a new colleague, feel free to contact me…… 😉

In the shoes of … Neil Mapes | Director | Dementia Adventure CIC

Happy New Year everybody. #DementiaChallengers are on a roll for 2013, determined to speed up the pace of positive change for people living with dementia and their carers and improve quality of life. And what a refreshing start to the New Year we have here…!

This guest blog is from Neil Mapes, Director of the innovative and award-winning ‘Dementia Adventure’. I am delighted to be able to include this contribution to our ‘in my shoes’ series, looking at dementia from different perspectives. I am a big fan of Neil’s “can do” attitude – it takes a pretty special person to plan sailing holidays for people with dementia in our risk-averse, increasingly litigious ‘elf n’ safety’ society.

We have had over 70 guest posts so far. I have written a couple myself talking about the important role of nature  and specifically the  ‘Let nature feed your senses ‘ project. Neil’s team is making outdoor experiences a reality for more and more people.  I personally feel you do not need mountains of research to know that getting outdoors is GOOD FOR US!

Dementia Adventure is a breath of fresh air for people living with dementia in all senses (literally) – touching, smelling, feeling, tasting and not least hearing the good things that nature has to offer. Most of us take these things for granted – I’d argue that being able to continue going outdoors in later life should be seen as a ‘human right’! 

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