All posts tagged: Alzheimer’s disease

How to Plan a Successful Outing for Adults with Alzheimer’s

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Time outdoors with seniors with Alzheimer's.

Adults with Alzheimer’s and Caregivers Deserve Time Out and About

Many of us enjoy the luxury of traveling wherever and whenever we can. We can up and leave the house whenever we want to; if we have an errand to run, we can spontaneously do it. When the sun is shining outside, we can get up and go outside for some Vitamin D. We go for walks, visit the store, travel, and go wherever our adventurous hearts take us. Even with technology accessible everywhere these days, it feels good to get up and go outside. When we’re stuck indoors, we long for a breath of fresh air. We really take advantage of the fact we can up and leave the home whenever we want. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for elderly people, and especially senior citizens with Alzheimer’s, to get up and experience the great outdoors.

There are many benefits of being outdoors, whether it’s in the sunshine or rain. Vitamin D, regular exercise, and daylight are only a few of the benefits of leaving the home, but it can make you feel great. Just by going outside you feel fresh, energetic, and healthy.  For senior citizens with health conditions like Alzheimer’s, a few minutes of daylight and sunshine can help stimulate the brain. A breath of fresh air can help reduce stress levels. Everyone can benefit from this especially those who are cooped up  and have very little social life outside the four walls of their home. Not only can it make patients feel productive, but it encourages socialization and communication.

A 10-15 minute walk or sitting in the front yard from the comfort of their own home can make them feel useful. It stimulates their brain, body, and all of their senses. They will notice people passing by, nature, and all sorts of different stimuli of the city or country. They will also observe other people, especially if you as a caregiver can initiate conversation.

Communication and socialization are some of the skills many people lose as they grow older. This can severely affect people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other mental health conditions. Once they become reliant on others, it’s hard to maintain their care, as well as helping them socialize, especially if you’re a full-time carer and have responsibilities of your own.

From my personal experience caring for my mom, taking her outdoors usually gets crossed off the top of my list and scribbled down at the bottom. But in this sunny fall, I ensure she takes advantage of the beautiful fresh air. Here are a few tips to consider when visiting outdoors with a senior citizen with Alzheimer’s disease.

Planning the big day out

  • Planning ahead will prove to be the most successful tool here. It’s important you check the weather when taking a senior citizen outside. When planning their day out, be sure to consider where you want to take them (park, library, store, a short walk), what time (plan it around their bathroom breaks and eating schedules) and when (what day of the week is most comfortable for them).
  • Be prepared for things the person with Alzheimer’s will require when being outside. It’s likely they may not have visited outdoors in a while, so the daylight, noise, and people may be too much for them to bear. Wherever you visit, make sure there are bathroom facilities and a place close by to eat, or pack a small snack just in case. Most importantly, if you need to make a quick escape to home, ensure the destination is not so far away from their place of comfort.
  • Is the location accessible for them? My first mistake I made when taking my mom to the local park was forgetting to consider about wheelchair accessibility. When I finally got there, I observed how narrow the park’s gates were. Fortunately, I was able to wheel her into the entrance/exit with only a slight struggle, but I would strongly recommend to all caregivers to check if the location is accessible for your client.
  • Have fun! This is something I often forget. It’s something you can’t plan, but hope for. Whether it’s 15 minutes or a couple of hours, don’t forget to take advantage of the beautiful moment you’re sharing with them. As much as this experience is for them, it’s a great memory for you too.

There are no correct or incorrect ways of encouraging a senior citizen to be outdoors. Everyone is different, and it’s important you meet their needs first. Whether it’s taking them in the front yard for 15 minutes of fresh air or taking them to a coffee shop, they will feel energized. For senior citizens with Alzheimer’s, like my mom, who are unable to be as active as the rest of us, ensure wherever you take them, they have something to observe to keep their brain stimulated.

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careacademyHow to Plan a Successful Outing for Adults with Alzheimer’s
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How to Communicate With Someone With Alzheimer’s.

  It’s tough looking after an elderly person especially, someone who has a condition that doesn’t allow them to be as independent as they used to be. I’ve been caring for my mother who has Alzheimer’s for over 5 years now, and as her memory and motoring skills become worse, the most significant difficulties I’ve experienced while caring for my mother, is communication. Whether it’s asking what she wants for her dinner or reminding her who I am, I’m always struggling to find a way to talk to her. This should be easy though, right? She’s my mother, I’m her child. She raised, she fed me, she clothed me. She attended all my doctor and dentist appointments with me. Well now it’s my turn to take on the maternal role. However, there are just times I cannot find a way for her to understand me, and vice versa. Whilst juggling laundry, grocery shopping, feeding and clothing my mother, I’ve found some time efficient ways on how to take things one step at a time.

Tips for communicating with a person with Alzheimer’s

  1. Let them know you’re there. It might sound obvious enough, but patients with disorders may not be aware of their surroundings or people. A gentle “hello, how are you doing?” or a simple touch to the hand every now and then won’t go unappreciated
  1. Distract them if they get upset. This is what I’ve found to be the most useful method had there ever been one! It’s often difficult for caregivers to figure out what’s wrong or what the problem is when the patient is distressed, but it’s incredibly frustrating for them when we can’t figure out the cause. Instead of investing time to find solutions, distract them with something they can relate to. For example, my mother loved getting dolled up to attend weddings and events, so I would show her all the fancy dresses she used to wear and remind her she can wear them on our next outing
  1. Make them feel involved. Inform the person with Alzheimer’s of current events and affairs, or make them help you fold the laundry. It may be meaningless to their lifestyle, but it’ll feel nice for them to feel involved with daily routines. Making polite small talk helps them to feel included. It’ll remind them of times in the past where they were active contributors to society. This is also a good way to pass time.
  1. Don’t be a fuss pot. Sometimes, they like to be just as they are. It’s important to give them their independence and space. This is as important to them as it is to you.  Giving them space will also improve your patience with them. Let them hold that glass of water all by themselves. Teach them how to hold a spoon or plate during dinner. This way, both you and the person with Alzheimer’s are helping each other, and this creates a special bond during these difficult times
  1. Patience goes a long way. Cliché, I know, but it really does go a long way! A lot of people think caring for an elderly person is a lot like looking after a child. It is. But it’s far more difficult than that. Children can be taught how to dress themselves; they can remember events from the day before. Elderly people can’t necessarily do these things anymore, or not as well as they used to. It takes time and a whole lot of patience to care for any person and the best way to do so, is to take one day at a time, one step at a time.
Some motivation for caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s: At the end of the day, you, the caregiver, are there to provide the best care you possibly can for the person suffering from symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the little things you do that help them throughout the day. They may seem likes chores at times but you’re making a huge difference in their lives. Although they’re a big part of your life, you’re the main part of theirs. You may be the only person the person with Alzheimer’s can remember or the only person they have to talk to. But, my final piece of advice as someone who is quite experienced in looking after the elderly (adults with and without Alzheimer’s) as well as children – don’t forget to look after yourself!  

Want to know more about working with someone with Alzheimer’s? CareAcademy’s professional online caregiver courses jumps-start your eldercare career.

Siddiqa KhalifaHow to Communicate With Someone With Alzheimer’s.
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