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.
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. 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.
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.
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…
Plan, Plan and Plan Some More
Ensure you have a plan A and plan B in case circumstances change on the day. Plan your journey and timings in advance, including sufficient rest stops. If possible, use a sat -nav that can re-direct you in the event of road closures or heavy traffic. If you do not have a sat-nav, the google-maps mobile phone app is an excellent resource. Make sure that the car is stocked with water and fuelled up and ready to go before you head off. Be aware of school holidays or popular events nearby so as to ensure that you will not be encountering loud, disorientating crowds.
Think ahead as to what your loved one might want or need on the day, as well as what you will need to ensure that your day goes smoothly. Here are a few ideas:
- Tickets for your venue – pre-booked if possible to avoid long queues
- Money – cash and credit card
- Map or sat-nav for route
- Radar key for disabled access to toilets
- Blue Badge
- Ample food and water
- Identity cards/photos, for pockets
- Regular prescription medication
- Mobile phone (fully charged) with emergency contact numbers stored
- Suitable footwear and a change of clothes
- Umbrellas and rain coats or hat, gloves and scarves OR, if you are lucky, sun hats and sun tan lotion!
- Camera/camera phone or camcorder
You should also consider your own needs, and how these will impact your loved one, for example if you need to use the bathroom facilities, can they be left on their own? Do you have any health concerns of your own that would warrant perhaps inviting someone else along to help you?
Try to relax and enjoy the day and quality time with your loved one. If possible take pictures to keep in a memory book. Not only will it be a nice memento of a lovely day out, but it will also be a good reference to look back for inspiration for future trips to remember places that you liked.
Hopefully this guide will give you the confidence to plan a great day out for yourself and a loved one. But, if you are still unsure, why not speak to us about your Companion Carer joining in on your day out to give you a bit of support? Unsure your location is supported? Check out our locations for caring for someone with dementia.
Bright Care is a family-founded business providing care and companionship to the elderly in the peaceful comfort of their own home. Find out about our dementia care or get in touch to talk to our dedicated care team and discover what’s possible for elderly loved ones.
DISCLAIMER: This article has been produced for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.