Everyone likes to go on fun outings. Not only are they entertaining, but there’s research that shows getting out of the house more often can increase a senior’s quality of life. Even though this is true, a recent study found that more than 2 million older adults (about 5.6% of the senior demographic) are homebound, making them more at risk for depression, anxiety, and physical health concerns due to lack of exercise. So while it can seem like a challenge to plan and execute an outing with your older family member—especially if they have dementia or another mental impairment—it can ultimately benefit their overall well-being. It just takes a little extra preparation and patience.
Brickmont Assisted Living offers assisted living and memory care services to the Greater Atlanta, Georgia, area, including Milton, Acworth, Woodstock, and John’s Creek. We’re sharing some tips and strategies for planning a successful outing with your older loved one.
Please Note: Brickmont Assisted Living takes the health and safety of older adults seriously. We know that some outings and trips are still not safe, and we encourage you and your family to follow all local and state guidelines regarding COVID-19 restrictions. We are sharing this article in hopes that outings and events will be safe for everyone shortly!
Pick Activities That You Know Will Be Successful
If the furthest your family member is used to going is to the end of the driveway to collect the mail, chances are, a full day at the mall or museum will be overwhelming and draining. Instead, opt for a situation that you know will be appropriate, such as a short visit to the local library, a relaxing cafe, or a nearby nature preserve. You can even take them to something that aligns with their interests and hobbies, like a knitting store or a cooking class.
If your family member has dementia, familiar activities and places are always a good idea. One idea might be to drive through their old neighborhood or somewhere else that reminds them of their past.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Wherever you choose to go, it’s essential to plan and prepare for any possible situation. Always check the weather forecast, traffic, or how crowded a venue might be before even leaving the house. Even if you’re going to a park or nature trail, it can be a good idea to call ahead or look online to ensure there is convenient parking, wheelchair access, nearby restrooms, etc.
If your family member rarely leaves the house, it’s crucial to consider every possible aspect of your outing.
- Do they need assistance getting in and out of the car?
- How far are they able to walk on their own without support?
- Do sounds and crowded spaces overwhelm them?
- Do they need to take their medication at a specific time?
Knowing the answers to these questions and more can help ensure a successful outing.
Pack To Prepare
You never want to leave the house empty-handed when going on an outing, even if it’s brief. Here are some suggestions of items to pack to guarantee you are fully prepared.
- Prescription medications, plus a basic first aid kit
- A light jacket, hat, sunglasses, and umbrella
- Water bottle and snacks
- Hygiene supplies
- For those with dementia, something familiar from home or a small sensory tool (fidget toys, small stuffed animal, essential oils)
No matter how much you prepare for an outing, there are still some things you simply can’t prepare for. Your family member may get sick, exhausted, or just disinterested. If your family member has dementia, they may even get confused, disoriented, or angry, especially if your outing is during the evening. In these situations, it’s usually best to call it a day and head home.
It’s important to remember not to get upset or take it personally if this happens. After all, if your goal was to get your family member out of the house for a while, you succeeded! Some days are simply better than others, and it’s always best to put your family member’s comfort and happiness first.
Between all the planning beforehand and the execution during, it can be challenging to slow down and enjoy the special moment you are spending with your loved one. As beneficial and enjoyable outings can be for them, seeing a smile on their face can also be a wonderful moment for you.
Brickmont Assisted Living offers memory care and assisted living services throughout Atlanta, Georgia. If you have a family member with dementia or who rarely leaves the house, we encourage you to follow these tips and plan a fun outing! For more information on our communities or our care, please visit our website.