Approximately 5.7 million Americans have dementia, and experts predict that number will increase to 14 million over the next 30 years. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance this condition affects you or someone you love. It can sometimes be difficult to think of activities or other ways to engage with your loved one, which is why we came up with this list. Take advantage of the summer season by encouraging loved ones with dementia to try these five fun activities together.
1. Plant a Garden
Spending time outside on sunny days may benefit older adults with dementia. Research shows that vitamin D, a nutrient associated with sunlight exposure, may help reduce the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Planting a small garden lets those with dementia enjoy the summer sun while strengthening muscles as they pour soil, dig holes, and insert seeds.
Sound like too much physical work? Buy a few pots of flowers, small plants or herbs rather than starting a garden with self-grown seedlings.
2. Create a Bird Feeder
Some folks with dementia enjoy relaxing outdoors without focusing on a physically or mentally demanding task. Bird-watching is an excellent option because it isn’t overly stimulating and you can do it from outside or inside your home.
Depending upon where you are most comfortable bird watching, add a bird feeder within view. You can buy a premade birdhouse, a DIY kit from the store or find directions online to build one at home. Then hang it near where you or your loved one likes to sit and enjoy.
3. Make Frozen Treats
The scorching summer sun puts older adults at risk for dehydration and other heat-related illnesses. You can potentially prevent some of these issues by drinking plenty of liquids, dressing appropriately for warm weather and minimizing physical activity during hot weather.
If your loved one insists on spending time outside on hot days, help them fuel up with frozen treats. Making frozen treats, such as fruit pops or flavored ice cubes, requires very little effort and keeps you cool. Experiment with different flavors of juice, tea, and soda to find the perfect frozen treat for your palate.
4. Enjoy a Picnic
When the weather is nice, pack a light lunch and head outside for a tasty picnic.
Make sure you pack weather-appropriate snacks for your picnic. For example, ice cream may melt before your reach your picnic destination, and meat may spoil quickly. Crackers, fresh fruit and chilled beverages are good choices.
5. Visit a Park
During the summer, local parks come alive with the sounds of laughing children, chirping birds and softly rustling leaves. Your loved one may have fun chatting with other park visitors or simply enjoy staring peacefully at a pond or fountain. If your loved one with dementia appreciates live music, consider an outdoor concert. Many parks host free summertime concerts and other activities for community members of all ages.
Summertime can be fun for everyone if you engage in the right activities. Spend some quality time with your loved one by trying some of the enjoyable seasonal activities at Riddle Village.