As a caregiver, getting outside to enjoy fresh air and sunshine is a great way to feel good.
Nature can lift our mood, reduce stress and provide a refreshing change of scenery.
While leaving the house with an older adult may require extra planning, the benefits of the outdoors are endless.
If you’re ready to enjoy the sunshine with your loved one, read on for 6 care and preparation tips to ensure a healthy and happy experience.
We’ll guide you through matching each activity with your loved one’s abilities.
For those caring for a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, follow these activities while checking to ensure they are enjoying the outdoors.
Be sure to look for signs that they’re comfortable, like smiling or laughing, and ask them if they are getting tired.
Walking provides light exercise and gives you and your loved one a chance to observe things around you.
Trees, flowers, animals, and other people can provide visual stimulation and possibly promote discussion.
If you have a porch or nearby bench, sit outside and listen to the sounds of birds, feel the breeze, the sun on your skin, and smell the fresh air, flowers, or cut grass.
All of this stimulates and engages our senses.
For a quick break from the indoors, retrieving the mail or daily newspaper can also be something special you can do together.
2. Double up your green thumb
If you have a garden, let your loved one help by turning the soil, pulling weeds (being sure to show their difference from plants), and cutting flowers.
For those with a produce garden, picking fruits and vegetables can be done collaboratively.
In springtime, starting seeds for the garden, as well as planting garden boxes and containers, can also be incorporated.
Raking leaves in the fall is another activity to incorporate if they are physically able. Sweeping an outdoor area such as a porch, patio or driveway is another way to get exercise and fresh air.
3. Turn your garden into a movie
Having a bird feeder is a great way to provide stimulation and relaxation.
To get started, ask your loved one to help fill the feeder and let you know when it needs more seed.
Watching the variety of birds come to a feeder is not just entertaining, it also provides an outlet for a new hobby.
If birds become an interest, get a simple bird identification book. It’s always fun to know the names of the birds you are watching.
4. Get out of the neighborhood
Many memories are often connected to locations, scents, and sounds outside.
Day trips can provide a great opportunity to reminiscence. Go to a park, the beach, an outdoor concert, or any place that holds significance to your loved one.
The zoo, animal pet farms, fishing, farmers’ markets, and crafts bazaars can also be delightful outings.
These trips can also be as simple as going to get an ice cream cone and sitting on a bench to enjoy it.
If you have a sports fan in the family, find local sporting events to watch. High school football games, local soccer clubs, and grandchildren’s sporting events are all great activities that can be enjoyed by everyone.
5. Ensure safety for a loved one with Dementia
When caring for a person with Dementia while being outside, be sure to ensure safety so that they do not harm themselves or wander off.
Each person has a different living environment, so some pre-planning may be needed before engaging in outdoor activities.
If you live on a busy street, safety will be a concern. If you live in an apartment, outdoor activities will be more difficult and require more planning and effort.
A fenced yard, enclosed patio space or deck are probably ideal situations. Sitting on a balcony or porch can also provide an alternate environment.
6. Get outside, even in bad weather
While those living in warmer climates may have more time to enjoy the outdoors, don’t forget the range of options for your local conditions.
Even where it is cold, a nice drive and a few minutes outside can make a big difference.
You can enjoy benefits on a rainy day as well. Standing under an umbrella or on a porch, listening to the rhythm of the rain and smelling the wet outdoors can calm, change a mood or restore a memory.
So get outside whenever possible and enjoy!
By Barbara K. Schmidt, MA, CTRS. Barbara is a Guest Contributor at Clearday at Home.
This content is a sample of Clearday at Home’s Activity Library. Clearday at Home™ is a new digital service that helps caregivers easily manage Dementia and Alzheimer’s care from home.
When you join, a licensed Care Expert evaluates your loved one’s cognitive health through an easy virtual call. Using those results, they design a Care Plan matching their needs to promote aging in place.
Each month, you get access to dedicated Care Experts, ongoing cognitive assessments, and personalized Daily Activities to promote health. For more information, visit cleardayathome.com, follow @myclearday on Facebook, and watch them on YouTube.