Enjoying the Outdoors: Spring Activities for Seniors with Dementia
Senior assisted living professionals can help your loved one enjoy warmer weather while reaping the health benefits of time spent outdoors this spring
As the warm weather slowly starts to show and the snow begins melting, the prospect of spring can create feelings of anticipation and happiness for us all. After months of being cooped up inside or, worse, bundling up to face the cold weather, many families look forward to getting out into the fresh air. Doing springtime activities we enjoy like walking, riding bikes, packing a picnic, or working out in the garden, gives us joy and adds meaning to our lives. For senior loved ones with dementia, staying active and enjoying the outdoors is important so finding activities that are suitable to their abilities is essential.
The Importance of Getting Outside
We may take for granted our freedom to go outside when we want to, choosing how we want to spend our time outdoors or maybe opting for a lazy day on the couch instead. As warmer weather returns, it is important to realize how truly beneficial getting outdoors can for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Senior assisted living professionals encourage seniors with dementia to remain physically and mentally active and spring is a great opportunity to add some new activities to your loved one’s weekly routine.
Getting out of the house and into the sunshine exposes our bodies to an essential vitamin: Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for strong bones, healthy muscles, and improved mood. Daylight is important for regulating our body’s clock, helping to promote a healthy sleeping schedule.
Research has shown that the health of people with dementia who spend between 10 and 15 minutes of activity outside a day improved significantly. For seniors with mobility issues, simply sitting outside in the sun can have positive mental and physical health benefits. Be sure to wear protective clothing, sunscreen, and drink plenty of water when exposed to the sun! [Source]
Spring Activity Planning
Seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may struggle with certain outdoor tasks or feel overwhelmed by a change in their preferred routine. With help from a senior assisted living professional, you and your senior loved one can incorporate outdoor activities into your care plan that are both simple and enjoyable.
Try to plan activities around the same time each day, taking into consideration when your loved one is most often active. They can be a part of the activity or simply watch.
Here are a few other things to consider when planning outdoor activities:
- Match the activity with your loved one’s physical and mental abilities
- Be encouraging and positive about going outdoors
- Remember to put time aside for resting and hydrating
Activities Seniors & Caregivers Can Enjoy Together
Finding an interesting outdoor activity for seniors with dementia to enjoy isn’t as hard as you might be thinking. As we’ve discussed, your loved one doesn’t need to be incredibly active in order to enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors. Many senior assisted living homes plan outdoor activities for residents that are suitable for seniors with a variety of limitations. On a daily basis, simply spending time sitting on the porch can be enjoyable. Some facilities are able to plan outings where seniors can walk around a park, shopping center, zoo, or another outdoor area.
When choosing an outdoor activity to do with your senior loved one, focus on hobbies and interests they enjoyed prior to the progression of their dementia. You may find that the joy and relaxation they felt doing these activities in the past will return.
A few ideas for outdoor activities that family caregivers can enjoy with their senior loved ones include:
- Watching a sporting event
While the bustle of a professional sporting event may be overwhelming for seniors with dementia, attending a grandchild’s baseball game can be a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. There is the same action and excitement, but with less pressure and confusion.
Did your senior mom or dad love baseball throughout their life? Learn more about how America’s favorite past-time is being integrated into dementia programs for adults in our blog about sports reminiscence therapy, “Baseball is a Hit for Innovative Dementia Treatment”
- Be a tourist in your hometown
Taking a walk around the block or window shopping in an open-air shopping center can be a great way for seniors to get some light exercise outdoors. Some cities offer boat or bus tours, allowing you and your loved one to sit back and enjoy the view. If your loved one has advanced dementia or mobile limitations, a walk down the driveway to get the mail can be adventure enough.
- Explore community events
When you have a senior loved one with dementia, planning an entire day’s outing can be daunting. Explore adult day care centers, senior centers, and other community resources for seniors with dementia. Often, these organizations host community events like picnics, outdoor concerts, crafts, or parades that are suitable for seniors with dementia.
- Go out for a treat
You probably know your mom or dad’s favorite restaurant or snack that lifts their spirits right up. Rather than saving that ice cream stop or patio lunch for a special occasion, stop for a treat just because. Sometimes deviating from the routine can breathe a fresh breath of air into your loved one’s mood. And the occasional vanilla ice cream cone from Dairy Queen can be a nice treat for you as well. [Source]
Use these ideas as a starting point for getting your senior loved one outdoors thing spring. Working with senior assisted living professionals to create a variety of activities that are realistic and enjoyable can bring happiness to both you and your loved one.
For more information about memory care services provided by ComfortCare Homes, please call our office at (316) 444-0532.