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Fun Summertime Activities for Loved Ones with Dementia

Summer has begun, and if you’re like us, you’re ready to get out and enjoy everything the season has to offer. Now that things are reopening and life is going “back to normal,” there are many opportunities for you and your loved one to be entertained, socialize and take part in fulfilling activities. We do want to stress that because it’s not always obvious who has received their COVID vaccinations and who hasn’t, it’s still a good idea to follow current CDC guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing.

“As a caregiver, you know that activities and events are incredibly fun and beneficial to your loved one,” says Crystal Yost, PCHA, PCH, Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. “Summer is a great time of year to do both outdoor and indoor activities because of the beautiful weather, the long days and the plethora of festivals and other things to do. Plus, many of the activities we do in summertime are great for boosting the mental health of individuals with dementia.”

The best summer activities for seniors with dementia use a variety of senses and different abilities, says Crystal. Visiting the farmers market, gardening, birdwatching or swimming are all great activities that help boost brain health and cognitive function.

“It’s important for all of us to pay attention to our mental health because it’s so closely tied to overall well-being – something we’ve all learned over this past year,” Crystal explains. “Partaking in fun, meaningful summer activities will help reduce depression and anxiety, help your loved one feel productive, provide sensory stimulation and fresh air, and definitely go a long way towards helping your loved one achieve mental well-being.”

And, of course, it’s beneficial for caregivers, as well. “So many times we don’t think about our own health or well-being because we’re so focused on our loved ones,” she says. “Stimulating activities allow both of you to enjoy the benefits of meaningful activities while spending time together.”

Safety First

Summer is fun, but it also brings some inherent risks for older adults, especially those with dementia. Before you head off on any adventures with your loved one, remember to plan ahead and take steps to keep both them and you safe during the warm weather. Here are some simple tips to follow to make sure that you’re keeping his or her health and safety top of mind:

  • Carry sunscreen with you when you’re out and about, and be sure to reapply it on a regular basis – seniors have very sensitive skin that can easily become sunburned; plus, the risk of skin cancer is heightened as you age.
  • Always be sure there is a cool place where you and your loved one can go if necessary. This can be anything from an air-conditioned building, your car or a cool spot in the shade.
  • Avoid doing outdoor activities during the hottest times of the day, generally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Carry water with you and make sure your loved one drinks regularly, as dehydration can occur very quickly during the summer months.
  • Make sure that your loved one always has a form of identification on them so if you do become separated, it will be easier to ensure that they get help and you’re reunited.

5 Summer Activities for People with Dementia

1. Grow a garden.

Gardening is a very popular hobby for individuals with dementia because it stimulates all the senses, provides exercise and is something you can see the results from over time. Being outside means that you’re soaking up the sun and the vitamin D that comes with it. Vitamin D is an important element to building healthy bones, boosting mood, improving immune systems and also helping regulate circadian rhythms (which means better, deeper and more consistent sleep at night). While you might not think of gardening as a physical activity, it requires strength and resistance, flexibility and even aerobic endurance – but not so much that it’s wearing or difficult for someone with limited mobility. Finally, gardening allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor – literally, if you’re growing vegetables or fruits.

2. Watch the birds.

Feeding the birds is another beloved hobby that’s enjoyable and easy – just put up a feeder and watch the birds flock to it. Many of us live in places where we receive year-round as well as seasonal visitors. Consider setting up a variety of feeders to attract different species. You’ll more than likely attract other animals to your feeders as well (such as squirrels), which can add even more entertainment into the activity. Birdwatching is a good opportunity to engage your loved one in storytelling and conversation – you can talk about what the animals are doing, discuss what types you see or reminisce about birdwatching from your past.

3. Go on a picnic.

Who doesn’t love a picnic? Eating outside is delightful, especially when the weather is perfect. You can picnic anywhere, whether it’s at a nearby park, in your backyard or even on the floor of your living room if the weather is not so great. Gather up a blanket, some lawn chairs, pack a picnic basket with a light lunch and head out to a favorite sunny spot. Choose foods that are easy to eat and will stay fresh even in warmer weather – fruit, cheese and crackers, simple sandwiches, chips … that sort of thing. Be sure to bring plenty of liquids to wash down your meal and stay hydrated. Consider investing in a cooler or insulated tote so that everything remains cool and delicious.

4. Visit the park.

Yes, you can picnic in the park, but there are plenty of other things to do during the summer months at your local green space. Parks often have something going on just about every day during summer, from farmers markets to live musical performances to festivals and other events. Even on days when there isn’t something official going on, parks are a great place to visit and people-watch. They’re a sensory delight, from the sound of children playing to the feel of wind on your face to the smells of the flowers and the touch of grasses on your hands and feet. If your loved one is still able to walk and get around, look for a park that has walking trails that are walker-friendly in order to get a little exercise. If ducks and other birds are visitors to the water features at the park, bring some cracked corn with you and feed your feathered friends. There’s always something to do at the park, even if it’s just quietly sitting and enjoying the delightful summer weather.

5. Make favorite summertime foods.

Who doesn’t love the tastes of summer? Fresh fruits, corn on the cob, ice cream, frozen treats, hot dogs on the grill … taste is an important sense for summer fun, and making favorite foods is always a great activity for someone with dementia. It can be a whole day event, too. Head to the farmers market to pick up some fresh produce and ingredients, and then head back to create some delicious dishes. Then, after everything is complete, enjoy a yummy meal outside – a combination of all the senses to create a delightful, picture-perfect summertime day.

As you can see, there are many activities that can be enjoyed by both you and your loved one with dementia. With just a little planning and some creativity, it’s easy to create a summer filled with fun, meaningful activities for you and your loved one.

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on dementia care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely blog articles on current caregiver and dementia care topics posted on our website.

We Would Love To Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog "Fun Summertime Activities for Loved Ones with Dementia," we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again.

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Crystal at 484.380.5404 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.