Preparing for an outing with a loved one who has advanced dementia takes planning.
If you have a loved one with dementia, you’ll likely find yourself looking for ways to enhance their quality of life. Going on outings together is certainly an option to help improve quality of life.
Think about safety
When planning a trip for somebody who has dementia, plan ahead with safety in mind. Think about scheduling a reasonable journey like a gentle walk in the park, or feeding the ducks. Keep trips short and don’t go too far away.
It’s also a good idea to have a first aid kit and a mobile phone with you. The most vigilant of caregivers can lose sight of their loved ones at times. Consider a location tracking device for your family member as well as an ID card with a phone number attached.
Pack a bag
Also be sure to bring a first aid kit, the person’s regular medications, sunscreen, a bottle of water and some snacks. You might also like to bring wet wipes, incontinence pads, because if you plan for the unexpected you’ll ensure a smoother day. Think about bringing umbrellas, towels and a change of clothes too.
Have a backup plan
Expect the unexpected if you’re going on an outing with a family member who has dementia. It’s not just the weather that can take a turn for the worst, but your loved one might not be comfortable with what you’ve planned for that day. Having an alternative venue could prove to be beneficial.
Unpredictable behaviours that may arise due to dementia can cause stress for all parties involved if you’re planning an outing. Such behaviours might’ve deterred you from going on outings in times past. Other members of the public sometimes lack understanding of the special needs of your family member with dementia. For example, your family member might falsely accuse a member of the public of doing something, or forget where they are and become anxious. If this is the case, it’s alright to cut your trip short, or move onto another venue. Listen to your loved one, and respond accordingly to their current needs.
Fortunately there are more and more businesses becoming dementia-friendly. Consider outings to one of these Dementia-friendly organisations who actively make changes to their operations and immediate environment to meet the needs of people with dementia. They train staff and provide accessible services. Dementia-friendly communities has a community map to assist you in finding dementia-friendly businesses.
Bring a support person
Bringing additional friends and family on your outings can be great support. If this isn’t possible, consider bringing a support worker or in-home care worker along. This way outings that would prove too difficult with one person, are possible with additional help. An extra set of eyes and hands will add to the safety and wellbeing of your loved one.
Learn How to Handle challenging behaviours
People with dementia commonly display changes in behaviour. Dementia Australia offers tips on how to deal with challenging behaviours and changes in behaviour that’re associated with dementia. The suggestion is to always discuss changes in behaviour with your loved one’s G.P. first. There could be another underlying health condition that’s causing the change in behaviour, so it’s not wise to let it ride.
Staying calm, speaking in a calm voice and keeping your own stress levels to a minimum will help the outing to go smoothly and avoid adding stress to the behaviours. Also consider starting with outings in a familiar environment where the patrons are familiar with you and your loved one, such as dementia-friendly business. Also, speak with your family members’ regular carers to find out what time of day is best for your loved one and try and go out at this time. For further support you can contact the National Dementia helpline on 1800 100 500.
Your efforts are important
It’s often the most actively involved family members that feel a deal of stress and often receive little acknowledgements for their efforts. Remember that you are improving the quality of life of your loved one with dementia by supporting them and taking them on outings.
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, you might feel alone and unsupported. You could also feel stressed or fatigued at any time. If this is how you’re feeling, please start by speaking with your G.P. for support. You can also get in touch with the Carer Gateway to receive help such as over the phone counselling.
If you’re the carer for a loved one who has dementia, don’t forget that there’s the option of taking up residential respite care for the care recipient. By using residential respite care you’ll know that your loved one is safe while you take the time that you need, away from your caregiving duties.
Never forget that you’re performing such a valuable service and your efforts are so worthwhile.