Posts Tagged dementia outings

The Night Shift cast Invites You to Fight Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day®

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Start a Team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

To learn more to register for the Greater Michigan Chapter’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, click here.

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Go Swimming


Summer is officially in full swing, so that means it’s beach/pool time! Swimming is great exercise because the water offer resistance, yet it’s low impact. Those with memory loss can certainly enjoy a day of swimming (or wading, or just sticking a toe in!) in the water. As with any activity, you’ll want to make appropriate precautions based on the person’s level of impairment. This can range from just making sure they wear extra sunscreen, as many medications make you more prone to burning in the sun, to chosing a less crowded location where teh person is less likely to get overwhelmed, to making sure someone is always providing supervision for safety. Whether you choose a beach or a pool; to swim laps or doggies paddle; wear swim trunks or a speedo, taking some time to enjoy the water can be a fun way to break out of your usual daily routine.

While you’re out, be sure to ask questions that encourage the person to reminisce. You might ask:
How did you learn to swim?
What is your favorite memory involving swimming/the water?
What did bathing suits look like when you were growing up? What do you think about today’s styles?

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Go to a Baseball Game


The weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. That can mean only one thing-baseball season is really heating up! So why not take the person with dementia to a baseball game! Any fan knows that watching a game in person is even more fun that watching it on TV, and even non-fans might catch the excitement in the stadium. If they done, well, then they can always enjoy the food, the people watching, or if you’re lucky enough to be in a newer stadium like our Detroit Tigers, the other things to do like the carousel or the fireworks! A baseball game is a great options for people with memory loss in the later stages because unlike a movie or a concert, no one cares if you talk, get up and move around, or even if you fall asleep! If the person with memory loss is unsteady on his/her feet, be sure to get handicapped seating so you don’t have to climb the stair in the bleachers, which often don’t have railings. Many stadiums also have benches rather than seats with backs, so you might want to check on that before you order tickets. You might also want to consider bringing a seat cushion as those hard seats can be uncomfortable to sit on, and the person with memory loss may not be able to ignore or work through feelings of discomfort as well as someone with normal cognition.

All those caveats aside, attending a baseball game really is a fun way to spend and afternoon! Just ask this lucky lady who caught a home run ball!

Last but not least, going to a baseball game is a great way to start reminiscing. You can ask about games they may have attending in the past, old favorite players, if they played baseball as a kid or if they coached their child’s team, etc.

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Volunteering is a great way for a person with mild memory loss to get out in the community and feel like they’re contributing, an important thing for someone who may be feeling a blow to their self-esteem and self-confidence due to changes brought on by dementia. The secret is to finding a volunteer job that’s not too easy but not too hard. You can begin the search on but don’t let that limit you. Lots of places are always desperate for volunteers, including local animal rescue leagues, hospitals, nursing homes, parks and rec departments, places of worship, local non-profit agencies, etc., so be sure to consider them, too. The volunteer job can be as simple as stuffing envelopes or as complex as becoming a foster grandparent (learn more about becoming a foster parent by clicking here), depending on the comfort and cognition of the individual. Those with more trouble with memory or who are a bit shy might prefer to have a friend or relative volunteer with them so they have a familiar face to go to if they need help, so consider making giving back an event the whole family can participate in!

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Attend a Children’s Recital


Going to a child’s dance recital, music recital, play, etc. is a great activity idea for those with memory loss of any stage. Those in the early stage will love seeing their grandchild, neighbor, whomever on stage. Those in the moderate to severe stages might not recognize the little (or not so little) ones on stage, but will likely enjoy the event nonetheless. Even better for those who may be nervous that the person with dementia might unintentionally disrupt the program by making noise or getting up is the fact that these events are designed for the restless brothers and sisters in the audience! There are frequent breaks between performers, making easy for you to make a quick get away if the person gets bored. Lots of young kids means that the person with memory loss is highly unlikely to be the only potentially loud attendee (when was teh last time you went to one of these events and a baby didn’t start crying?).

So, give it a try! Who wouldn’t want to watch those cute ballerinas in the picture? Attending these events is also a fun way to ask about activities the person with memory loss used to participate in, or what types of recitals they watched their kids in. Don’t forget to ask about the embarrassing things their kids used to do in the audience, or even on stage!

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View Christmas Lights

heinz drive

This was a hard post to title. So please forgive me for it’s vagueness. I don’t know if your family does this, but for years growing up my parents would bundle up the family, load up the car, and go drive around looking at the light displays on the rich side of town. Of course, we also had to take a drive through the county-sponsored light show, too (see the above picture). Either option is great for the person with memory loss to enjoy, so no matte what’s available to you, you’ve got a great nighttime activity. Since it gets dark so early this time of year, many people with memory loss to want to go to bed at only 7:00 or 8:00 pm, meaning they wake up super early in the morning. Going for a drive to look at the lights is a nice way to keep people up and engaged a little later. Even better, if you live a cold climate like I do, the chill in the air might help keep people awake, too! Of course, conversation and reminiscing is always great. You talk about which display you like best, how the person used to decorate the outside of their home for the holidays, how high the homeowner’s electric bill must be…

answer for this homeowner: crazy high.

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Relieve Stress with the Great Outdoors


Have you ever noticed that when we change our focus to animals and nature we relax? Well, people with memory loss experience it too! Fortunately, we live in a beautiful state with many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. There are some of the most enjoyable state parks within thirty minutes of the Detroit metro area. You can take a leisurely ride, walk, hike, learn at the nature center, volunteer, or just sit and enjoy the view.
Here are some suggestions:
Kensington Metro Park is a scenic 4,486 acre recreational facility that provides year-round fun for all ages.
Activities to participate in: Kensington Critters (live displays of various snakes, turtles and fish), Farmer for a Day (including seeing an active beehive), Astronomy on the Beach, seasonal birding programs (now is a great time to see migratory birds), sell-guided nature hikes, bike rides, and lots more!

For more information, visit their website at or call 810-227-8917. For those who aren’t lucky enough to live near Kensington, try searching your state’s website to find parks close to you and the programs they offer.

Happy Fall!

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Make a Leaf Collection

As the autumn season starts, a leaf collection is a fun way to get outside and engage with the beautiful color transformation of fall foliage. Making a leaf collection can be broken into two activities:
1. The walk to collect the leaves and preserve them,
2. The art project of collection assembly for display.

For a person in the early stages, it may be interesting to search for specific leaves by the scientific or common name and label them when creating the display. For those in the middle stages, looking for a variety of shapes and colors would be a good way to tailor the project.

You can use these guides to determine what leaves you are collecting.
Simple tree guide:
Thorough science guide:

What you will need to press leaves and create a display:
Wax paper
Heavy books or iron
Art supplies for displaying leaves (construction paper, notebook, greeting cards, poster,etc)
Acid free tape or glue

Once you have collected the leaves you will need to press them to preserve them.
1. Cut wax paper big enough for leaves to lay flat
2. Cover leaves with another layer of wax paper
3. Stack heavy books on top of leaf in wax paper
4. It may take several days for a leaf to dry out.

Or, click here for faster leaf preservation instructions.

After preserving the leaves, you can use acid-free tape to secure them to your chosen display medium (construction paper, poster, notebook, greeting cards, etc). Now you have a beautiful piece of art or a scientific plant book and got a little exercise and fresh air.

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Get a Massage


I don’t know about you, but I feel like massage parlors have EXPLODED in my neighborhood. Ten years ago only the rich and famous got massages, but nowadays it seems like everyone I know has gotten at least a few in their lifetime. So, why not treat th person with memory loss in your life to a massage? They are recommended by the Arthritis Foundation, as you can read here, and some studies have even looked at the effects of massage on the “negative” behaviors some people with Alzheimer’s display, as you can read about on WebMD.

I can’t vouch for any studies, but I can say that the idea of soothing touch helping with the aches and pains of getting older and helping promote a calm demeanor has some face validity, at least to me. Of course, if the person with memory loss is in the moderate to late stages, it might make sense to take some common-sense precautions, such as notifying the masseuse that the person has dementia, perhaps staying with them in the room until you know how they’ll react, allowing the person to keep their clothes on, using light touch rather than a deep-tissue massage, scheduling a shorter massage for someone who likes to wander, etc.. Of course, if you’re so inclined/talented, you could try giving the person a massage at home. People in the late stages of dementia can still sense touch, even if they can’t speak, so a gentle shoulder or back rub can still be appreciated. Especially if bed-bound, helping the person do range of motion exercises/massaging arms and legs may help with circulation and in preventing pressure sores. Of course, be sure to talk with a doctor to see what movements would be best for the individual and make sure you stop if you notice any signs of pain such as grimacing, moaning, swatting at you, etc..

Those in the early stages, on the other hand, may enjoy the full massage/spa experience, and it’s one you can do together, either getting a couples massage if that fits your relationship, or getting separate massages and then basking in the relaxation together over lunch or another spa service such as a facial.

However you decide to try massage, I hope you find it relaxing!

Oh, and one more tip– watch Groupon or Living Social for deals on massages. That way it won’t be as big of a bummer if the person with memory loss doesn’t like the experience or can’t sit still for the whole thing.

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