The thought of taking an elderly person or a person suffering from dementia doesn’t need to be daunting
Where should you go? Will they enjoy it? Will there be sufficient facilities? Is the venue accessible? These are all very valid concerns and things that should be considered when planning days out for dementia sufferers. Often the stress of planning such an outing can be off-putting enough to not attempt it in the first place. The importance and benefit of such days out however cannot be over-stated. With a little advanced planning and preparation there is no reason why you can’t plan a day out with a loved one that you will both enjoy.
1. Choose The Right Venue
A place’s suitability is of the utmost importance to ensure a successful day out. Not only must it be suitably engaging, but it should have all the facilities that will meet the practical needs of your loved one. For those in Edinburgh, we’ve made it a little easier with our dementia-friendly map. We would recommend doing research and looking for places advertised as “dementia friendly” or simply with sufficient disabled facilities that will ensure that your loved one will not have a negative experience due to accessibility issues. The internet has a wealth of information on such places, and we have compiled a short list of some of our favourites for inspiration.
If possible, you should pay a visit to the proposed venue in advance to identify any issues that may cause issues on the day e.g. is parking quite far away, is the walk too steep an incline, or is it simply too popular an attraction and the large crowds may prove to be too distressing?
If you can’t pay a visit in person, then you should give the venue a call, as many attractions will have additional services that may available to you that have not been advertised on their website, for example, they may be able to arrange for a member of staff to greet you, and arrange for a quiet table and prioritisation of your order in a café, or will be able to advise on special exhibitions or dementia friendly days that may be of interest. Some venues will offer discounts for carers, have wheelchairs that you can hire for the day or enhance your day out with hands-on experiences that aren’t widely advertised.
2. Manage Your Expectations
You should be realistic about what your day will look like and manage your expectations accordingly. Visting a museum for instance will likely be at a much slower pace than is normal for you. It is important to plan a day which is flexible and relaxed to avoid disappointment and allow enough contingency time. Remember the best part of your loved one’s day will likely be having you all to themselves for an extended period of time, as opposed to the things you see and do.
3. Go Outdoors
The typical Scottish weather may lead you to plan an indoor activity so as not to be interrupted by rain, hail or snow! However a successful day can also be outdoors. In fact nutritionist Lorraine McCreary recommends sun and fresh air as part of a healthy lifestyle. With suitable outerwear and shoes, and a Plan B in case the weather gets really bad, most people can enjoy fresh air and nature in a safe way. Activities can include guided walks around parks or woodlands, or even something a bit more adventurous…