A Spring Surprise: 8 ways to enjoy the season with your loved one who has dementia

A Springtime Surprise: 8 Ideas for springtime activities with loved ones who have dementia

As the weather warms, and the trees and flowers leaf-out and bloom, it’s a lovely time to get outside. Especially after our long and rainy winter. Melanie Donohue, LCSW (of Blue Moon Senior Counseling in Plainfield, Illinois) offers eight ideas for enjoying the out-of-doors with our loved ones who have dementia. They are her ideas, but we have tweaked them to better fit our neck of the woods.

  1. Take a Nature Walk. Our town is a treasure trove of easy outdoor paths, lake walks, beach walks, and gentle hillside strolls. Be sure to check out the area first to be sure they are accessible, easy to navigate, and free of fall hazards. Plant identification and bird watching are both fun to do on these nature walks.
  2. Have a Picnic in the Park. Parks abound in our fair city, and they are usually full of laughing children, dogs of every description, and comfortable places to sit and enjoy the day. Pack an old-fashioned basket with your loved one’s favorite sandwiches and plenty of water.
  3. Attend an outside event. Springtime means craft fairs, outdoor concerts, and farmers’ markets. Be sensitive to your loved one’s tolerance for noise, commotion, and crowds. Visit during off-peak hours to avoid the big crowds. Or have an easy exit if it gets too hectic.
  4. Play in the Garden. Taking care of plants can be very rewarding for people with dementia. Though gardening can be challenging for older folks with arthritis and joint pain, adaptive gardening tools and raised beds and benches can help. Or you could start an indoor herb garden together.
  5. Craft & Color. Springtime inspires the artist in all of us with its gorgeous colors and brand new life coming up everywhere. Create hand-made greeting cards, fill in spring-themed adult coloring books, or hand-paint flower pots. Painting pottery can be very relaxing – for both of you!
  6. Plan a Potluck. Spring is a great time to gather with family and friends in the backyard or on the patio. Social interaction is important for those with dementia, but be aware that all that effort might be tiring, so be sure there is a quiet place for them to withdraw.
  7. Reminisce. This is a meaningful experience any time of year, but here are some springtime questions to get you started.
  • What springtime activities did you do as a child?
  • How did you celebrate Easter?
  • Did you play or watch baseball?
  • What was school like in the springtime?
  • What was the weather like where you grew up?
  1. Spring Cleaning. Even small-scale spring cleaning can offer your loved one ways to feel productive. Sorting and organizing mementoes can open the door for reminiscing; maybe they can help you decide what to keep and what to toss. Dusting and polishing are other tasks that can be both engaging and rewarding.

Springtime awakens the best in all of us, including your loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Get out in nature, and recognize the hope and happiness to be found!

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Caring for a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer's is emotionally challenging—as is the decision to move them to a Memory Care facility. The Village at Sydney Creek is here to assist you with this transition. Our community in San Luis Obispo, California provides a knowledgeable staff and the necessary resources to make this step as smooth as possible—logistically, mentally, and emotionally.

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