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When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it can be difficult to know how to best support them. One way to show your care and concern is by organizing summer activities that are specifically tailored to their needs. While it is important to consult with their doctor or caretaker first before engaging in major activities, there are a few general guidelines you can follow to put together an enjoyable and memory-boosting summer schedule. In this article, we’ll offer tips for putting together activities for a loved one with dementia and offer a few ideas for activities you can do together this summer. 

Considerations when Planning Summer Activities for a Loved One with Dementia

There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when picking activities for your loved one with dementia. 

You will want to opt for activities that are low-impact and don’t require too much energy or coordination. It’s also important to consider weaving in bits and pieces of activities they’ve always enjoyed (if they can no longer do the activity safely). By doing so, you may be able to evoke happy memories or provide a sense of calm and relaxation. You’ll also want to balance opportunities for socialization, as this can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. Finally, you’ll want to create a sense of personal accomplishment or pride where possible. Elderly with or without dementia may struggle with a sense of purpose, so little wins can go a long way.

With a little planning, you can put together a summer schedule that will bring joy to your loved one while also providing some valuable cognitive benefits.

To create a cheat sheet for planning activities for a loved one with dementia, it is important to keep the following five things in mind: 

1. Activities should be engaging and stimulating. 

2. They should be tailored to the individual’s interests and abilities. 

3. They should be structured in a way that is easy to follow. 

4. They should be designed to promote social interaction. 

5. They should provide a sense of accomplishment. 

Activity Ideas for You and Your Loved One with Dementia

One of the hardest parts of the disease is watching as your loved one’s memory and cognitive skills deteriorate. However, there are still many ways to enjoy life, even with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Put together a summer activities package for your loved one. This can include things like a picnic blanket, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, a hat, and their favorite snacks. 
  • Go for a walk together in the park. Make sure to point out any interesting sights, smells, and sounds along the way.
  • Take a trip to the beach or pool. Again, take notice of all the different sensations around you. The feel of the sand between your toes, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, and the smell of salt in the air can all be calming and invigorating.
  • Head to a nearby museum or art gallery. Take your time walking around and enjoying each exhibit. If your loved one is feeling chatty, strike up a conversation about what they’re seeing.
  • Plan a picnic in your backyard or at a nearby park. Be sure to pack your loved one’s favorite foods and drinks.
  • Whip up some homemade ice cream together. There’s nothing quite like a refreshing treat on a hot summer day.
  • Go for a drive and take in the scenery. If your loved one is up for it, make some stops along the way to explore new places.
  • Play tourist in your own town or city. Visit some of the local landmarks and attractions you normally take for granted. It can help triggers old memories, or offer an exciting outing opportunity to see the things you’ve not given much time or thought to in a while.

Of course, it’s important to tailor the activities to your loved one’s abilities and interests. But dementia doesn’t mean you can’t do things together. With a little creativity, you can absolutely still enjoy quality time together.

Closing Thoughts: Summer Activities for a Loved One with Dementia

The California Caregiver Resource Centers are a network of eleven independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations across California. They were created with you both in mind and at heart to be a free resource as you navigate the challenging role you’re in. We would love to connect with you, where they can talk more about local programs for caregivers, answer your questions, and explain how they can best support you.

Further Reading: Getting Paid to Provide Care for a Loved One

If you are a caregiver, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a caregiver in California next. Becoming a caregiver is both physically and mentally difficult, and expensive. The state of California offers several paths for least partial compensation or subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.

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