Go to the Zoo

featured-june

Photo courtesy of detroitzoo.org

The zoo is a great place for the young and the young-at-heart. For those with young hearts but not-so-young knees and hips, many zoos, such as our local Detroit Zoo, offer wheelchairs to help visitors get around.  They’re on a first come, first served basis, but I’ve never been there and not seen a bunch of them waiting at the entrance.  Or, if you prefer, just stick with the exhibits close to the gate, or plan lots of rest breaks (especially in the air conditioned exhibits!). 

A trip to the zoo is a great way to not only involve the younger generation in visiting the person with memory loss, it also gives older relatives who may be uncomfortable visiting for fear of what to do or say, a built-in activity with lots of conversation starters.  What’s your favorite animal?  What is that animal doing?  Any funny memories from past zoo visits? etc

Even those in the late stages of the disease can enjoy going into the butterfly house and watching the butterflies land all around them or going into the bird house and listening to the bird calls.   Or, maybe they are like me and would enjoy the “ice cream of the future” and a lemonade-yum!

Of course, it goes without saying to make sure that you pack appropriately for the weather.  Those with memory loss, especially those later in the disease, may have trouble expressing thirst, so be sure to push fluids.  Wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved clothing, etc and try to avoid the super-hot days.  In fact, one of the best times I ever had at the zoo was in a rainy day in April.  My friend and I were two of probably thirty people in the whole park and could sit and stare at my favorite animals (the chimpanzees and the baboons) for HOURS right in front of the glass.  It was amazing.  

In that vein, it might be prudent to NOT go on weekends, as it tends to be extra crowded, which can be overwhelming for those with memory loss.  If your loved one tends to wander away, consider dressing her in a bright, distinctive color and take a picture of  her that day just in case you have to show it to staff if she gets lost.  It may also help if you dress in a bright color as well.  The person with memory loss might not remember what you’re wearing, but being extra visible may help them pick you out of a crowd.

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2 Comments »

  1. This is a very good blog. Very thoughtfully prepared wit plenty of good ideas for those with Alzheimers.
    Thank you.

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