We all know the benefits of getting out and about in terms of our wellbeing. However, undertaking a day trip with someone who has dementia can pose a number of hurdles and concerns. This article looks at how to plan a day out to boost their sense of peace and wellbeing.
Day trips can vary from an excursion to a local café, to a stroll down memory lane. Choose your location with care, particularly when considering eateries. Some venues will be quieter and calmer, and these should be preferred.
It is worth investigating local venues which offer wheelchair borrowing or rental services. These places not only make it easier for you practically, but will have planned their venue with wheelchairs access in mind. They tend to be more ‘disabled-friendly’ generally.
Memory difficulties are a common symptom of dementia. However, usually there is more success in accessing much longer-term memories, and as such great comfort can be brought from this.
Think back to the things that your loved one used to talk about from their younger years. How could you incorporate this into a day out? Perhaps they used to talk often about taking you to feed the ducks as a small child at a local park. If so, try to recreate this, or something similar. Think back to their old hobbies. Perhaps they liked to watch steam engines or the waves at the beach? Did they use to spend their weekend days perusing garden centres?
Plan more time into the excursion than you would normally do. With dementia, it is beneficial to do things at a slower pace. Processing the information, which a day out will bring, will be harder. Therefore choosing venues where you can take your time is invaluable. Museums, National Trust properties and galleries are all good ideas.
However, activities themselves should be kept relatively short as dementia affects concentration, so don’t involve too many challenges. Simply being together and being out is the most important thing.
It’s amazing how a spot of fresh air and the sun on your skin can lift the spirits. The same is true even when dementia is in the mix. For this reason, a guided wheelchair stroll around the local park or woodland can be hugely beneficial and restorative.
Dementia can cause an individual to become easily confused and bewildered. Therefore, you need to take the time, in advance, to plan the day. Plan routes and timings, ensure you have the money you need, and choose a weekday if possible, away from school holidays. By being confident in the plans yourself, you can demonstrate this confidence to your loved one.
If necessary, try the day out for yourself first, and consider whether this will definitely work with your loved one. Look out for where the accessible toilets and parking is. Check out a wheelchair friendly route. Think about where you can build in quiet spots for a rest. You may also want to purchase tickets in advance to avoid the stress of waiting in line.
On the day itself, have a tick list for things you need to pick up along with your loved one! Make sure you have any medication they may need for the day. If they require incontinence items, pack these too. Make sure your loved one is appropriately dressed, bearing in mind they will likely feel the cold more easily. An extra blanket is always a good idea.
It can be difficult being a carer for someone with dementia on a day out. Perhaps it may help to go in a small group with a few familiar faces to help your loved one and to help you. Alternatively, team up with another carer and go together. This ensures things are easier for you both, even just in terms of having the chance to go to the loo without worrying!
Perhaps keep a journal of all the places you have visited together with some notes about the day. This will help you decide whether to visit the same venue twice, and also help your loved one to remember things too. You can also take lots of photos and stick these in the journal too.
Be positive. Days out with those with dementia can be both enjoyable and serve to aid memory. Plan carefully, and you’ll be sure to both have a wonderful time.