You’re Not The Only One
If you dread taking your loved one on outings, you’re not alone.
One of the hardest parts of caring for your loved one who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s is going on outings with them. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s can display embarrassing or unusual behaviors in public, making it difficult for you to take them out without creating a commotion.
Why Outings are Beneficial
Going out into the sunshine and being social helps
● Enhance their moods
● Lower their stress levels
● Improve their sleep patterns
● Use their energy in a positive way
● Create new memories
● Lessen their sense of isolation
● Develop a stronger sense of self (affecting self-esteem, confidence, and happiness)
● Orient them in reality
Outings are important — for both caregivers and seniors. So use these 8 tips to make your outings as smooth and enjoyable as can be!
1. Pack your go-bag.
Be prepared, they say. It’s true! Pack a tote bag with essentials, and things your loved one would appreciate. Here are some ideas of what to bring on an outing to make it more pleasant:
● Snacks and water
● Emergency contact information
● Up-to-date medical information
● Photocopies of important legal documents
● Relevant medications
● Incontinence briefs
● Wipes and tissues
● Magazines and books
● Weather-related accessories (umbrella, sunscreen, sunglasses, gloves, etc)
● Extra clothing
● A soothing item for them to hold
2. Choose Alzheimer-friendly places.
When your loved one displays behavior that is not socially accepted, many businesses are not sympathetic, and instead of offering you assistance, they ask you to leave.
While not always possible, choose to visit establishments whose employees have completed special training to help them understand and assist people with dementia and their caregivers.
Think about how your senior loved one will behave in the place you plan to visit. Busy places (like restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks) can be overwhelming with all the sights and sounds and people. Choose your destination carefully.
3. Have explanations prepared.
Bystanders will naturally become uncomfortable and maybe stare when an adult displays strange behaviors like removing clothing or shouting inappropriately. Plan how you’re going to deal with these situations.
Here’s an idea: print small cards to hand out to bystanders, explaining that your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s and to please forgive the outburst. This discreet way of informing people also helps preserve your loved one’s dignity.
4. Stay calm.
Think this is an obvious one? It’s easy to get agitated along with your loved one. You are already working really hard caring for them, and taking them on an outing adds to your stress.
Yet, it’s important to remain calm. If you find your stress levels are rising in response to the outing, take three deep breaths, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you could, and carry on calmly.
Your calm state will help your loved one, too.
5. Inform your loved one in advance.
Some elderly people with dementia do not like sudden changes to their schedules. Take time to prepare them. Tell your loved ones when and where you’re going, what they can expect there, and any other information that will help them feel calmer and in control.
It also helps to keep your routine as close as possible to normal, by including tasks from their normal daily routine.
6. Inform the people at your destination.
Forewarned is forearmed! Going to visit people you know? Prepare them in advance. Explain that your loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and that they may display surprising behavior. Give them pointers for what they should and shouldn’t do.
For example, many people tend to do “memory tests” when speaking with people with dementia. Tell them in advance that testing your loved one agitates them.
7. Dress them comfortably.
You know the physical comfort of your loved one makes a big difference to their behavior. So dress your loved one in appropriate and comfortable clothing and shoes to lower the chances of outbursts. (Wearing proper shoes can also help your elderly loved one avoid potential falls.)
8. Time it right.
As their caregiver, you know your loved one fares better at different times of day and different times of the week. Plan your outing for a time when your loved one’s spirits are high and they’re feeling good. Make sure the duration of the trip will not overwhelm them, either.
You’re all set!
You’ll be well prepared with these tips the next time you need to go on an outing with your aging loved one who’s suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Looking for more helpful resources? Community Home Health Care has a caring, experienced staff of trained in-home caregivers, including personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides.
Explore our website and fill out the online form to receive more information about the medical assistance, personal care, and friendship we provide. You can call (845) 425-6555 with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to help.
Kudos to you, caregiver!