How to Plan a Successful Outing with a Person Living with Dementia
A person living with dementia may have different reactions than expected that can be hard to explain to those who aren’t familiar with dementia. As a care partner, you want to feel like you have the situation under control, but some things may be out of your control when on an outing. In these situations, all you can do is prepare the best you can.
If you ever feel stressed when going on an outing with your family member that is living with dementia, you’re not alone. Those living with dementia (and their caregivers) are at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation. Many care partners would simply stay at home instead of yielding to the planning, unpredictability, and patience that comes with planning an outing.
A core aspect of Bella Groves’ Go With The F.L.O.W.™ philosophy is whole-person vitality, the idea that a person living with dementia is a whole person that still has interests, passions, and desires. They may still want to go on a walk on the first day of spring, check out the new exhibit of their favorite artist, or attend their long-time church. And yes, it might take a little extra planning and patience, but it is possible, and the joyful moments that come from that extra planning are worth it.
How to Plan Successful Outings
San Antonio is a dementia-friendly city, but organizing an outing still requires planning and valuable strategies. Here are some of our best tips to ensure smooth, successful, and fun outings!
Being as prepared as possible is vital in planning successful outings. You should consider everything from the time of day and weather forecasts to parking at your destination. If you’re going somewhere outdoors like a park or a garden, look at a map and ensure that the area is accessible to wheelchairs or walkers (if applicable). If you’re going to an indoor space, such as a library or cafe, consider calling ahead to let them know you are coming or to ask what times are less busy.
Bring an Essentials Bag
Wherever you choose to go, it can be helpful to bring a bag with items that you might need. For example, water, snacks, and an extra jacket or blanket can all be beneficial.
Be Prepared for Behavioral Expressions
Dementia causes changes in the brain that a person has no control over, and those changes can make a person living with dementia react differently than expected. Having that knowledge and learning different ways to de-escalate the situation can help you be prepared to think quickly on your feet so that you can enjoy your time together. While it can still be stressful when your family member exhibits socially inappropriate behaviors when you’re out in public, you will feel more prepared to handle those situations. Have a game plan for handling these behaviors respectfully and discreetly, and always kindly and positively. If you’re interested in learning more about Bella Groves’ personalized dementia care and consultation program, contact our team today.
Many people find creating small cards explaining dementia can be a helpful and discreet way to let others know about your family member’s condition. For example, if they say something inappropriate to another person, you can hand that person a card that explains your loved one’s condition. Doing this is a great way to make others aware of the situation while still preserving your family member’s dignity. It is also an easy way to bring more awareness to dementia to those who may be unfamiliar.
Even though you’re putting a lot of time and effort into planning this outing, always remember to consider your family member’s wants and needs first. For example, if today is the day you’ve been planning to go to the museum, but Mom seems extra tired, consider staying home and rescheduling. If you’ve driven to the library and your Uncle refuses to get out of the car, it’s okay to turn around and go home. The goal of these outings is for you to have fun with your family member, and you shouldn’t try to force anything.
Enjoy the Moments
Between all the preparations and making sure everything goes smoothly, you can often forget to stop and enjoy this time with your loved one. Each time you take your family member out somewhere, you’re creating a special moment that can lift their spirits and give them opportunities to do things they enjoy. Remember to take a step back from the planning and preparations and be present in the moment with your loved one.
The Hope for a Dementia-Welcoming Community
Outings are beneficial for those with dementia, but they are also valuable for the community. Every time you bring your loved one around others, you’re opening doors for individuals and businesses to learn about dementia, how it manifests, and how to interact with the people it impacts. The more candid we can be about dementia, the more accepting and inclusive the community can be.
At Bella Groves, our hope is that all businesses and individuals will eventually be trained and educated on how best to interact with those living with dementia, allowing them to remain an active and cherished part of their community.
San Antonio is a dementia-friendly community with many enjoyable and exciting opportunities for those living with dementia and their families. We encourage you to follow these tips to create successful outings and meaningful moments with your loved one! For more resources on dementia care and education, visit the Bella Groves Learning Center.