Let the Outdoor Fun Begin!

A caregiver’s days often are harried with fixed responsibilities and countless unanticipated distractions. With so many tasks necessary just to get through a single day, the thought of getting out of the house with a loved one to do something extra—something new, fun and interesting—might seem impossible! After all, outings often involve significant advance planning and tons of energy, time and money, correct?

Well, relatively speaking, this is not a blog about an Alaskan cruise or climbing El Capitan. Let’s scale that way back. Consider partial-day opportunities for you and your loved one with dementia—outings to break from the routine (if only slightly) to do something together locally.

As the weather continues to improve, the opportunities for outdoor fun and/or relaxation increase. Plus, the benefits to morale and well-being are incalculable. Certainly, not every idea below is appropriate to every caregiver taking care of a loved one with dementia, but perhaps these simple ideas will inspire you to create your own fun activities.

Summer activities around Indianapolis

Be sure to consider what your loved one’s interests have been in the past. Was he an avid fisherman? Most people who fish will attest to how wonderfully relaxing it can be just to sit and cast a line from the shore, whether the fish are biting or not. Has she enjoyed photography? A nearby park could be a great place for her to capture photos of interest. Loves ice cream? Visit a creamery and indulge in your favorite flavor(s)! There are too many examples to name, but you could also:

  • Pick up lunch at Stardust Terrace Café (lower level of the Indiana Historical Society) and sit at a table on the Canal to watch paddle boats, joggers, Segway riders and fowl.
  • Take a walk in The Garden at Newfields, or visit a commercial nursery and purchase a few seedlings to plant together at home.
  • Join the lecture for “Meet Me at Newfields,” a specialized tour at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Galleries that provides guests with early stage Alzheimer’s and their caregivers a facilitated conversation of art.
  • Call ahead for the best time (i.e. during quieter, less crowded hours) for you and your loved one to experience Conner Prairie’s Animal Encounters. While you’re at it, be sure to sign up for the next Memory Café at Conner Prairie on July 20!

Some things to bear in mind:

  • For the most enjoyable time possible, plan outings when you’ve both had a good night’s sleep and are well rested. It also helps to plan it at your loved one’s best time of day.
  • Don’t make travel a burden. Avoid traveling during high-volume traffic. Keep trips within a few miles of home to help reduce burnout in your loved one before you get there. This also will make it possible to get back home quickly if things don’t go as planned.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected (take snacks, bottled water, etc.)
  • Taking lots of photos will extend the longevity of the experience. Making a scrapbook of them will provide sweet conversation for the two of you indefinitely.
  • Whichever activities you may choose to engage in with your loved one, remember that safety is of utmost concern, and plan accordingly.

We would love to hear which activities you have chosen to enjoy with your loved one. Contact us at caregivers@cicoa.org and let us know!

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