Just because you have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean that you can’t still go on fun outings together. In fact, those with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s can have a lot of fun and experience much enjoyment when going out on carefully planned activities. Here at Sunshine Care, our residents go on regular field trips and have a great time! However, we must be aware that those with dementia and Alzheimer’s have special needs. As a caregiver to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you will need to take special precautions and plan carefully to help your family member or loved one have a safe and good time.
Here is a helpful going-out checklist that will help you plan for a safe and fun outing with your loved one:
The Sunshine Care Going-Out Checklist for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Create a clear itinerary – List exactly where you plan to go and what you plan to do. Include addresses and phone numbers where appropriate. Make sure everyone in your group, including your loved one, has a copy of the itinerary. Give or email a copy to someone who is not going on the trip, like your spouse, sibling, or adult child just in case.
- Create a contact and medication card – Write down your name, address, and contact information on a card and put it in the pocket or wallet of your loved one. This will be extremely useful in the event that your loved one wanders off and seeks help. We also recommend including a card that notes your loved one’s diagnosis and any medications that he or she takes. Include the dosage and times for each medication. Also include the name and number of your loved one’s doctor. You should have this information on you too in case a medical emergency arises.
- Let Others Know – If you are staying at a hotel, going to a show, or visiting a restaurant, consider calling ahead and letting the staff know that your loved one has Alzheimer’s. This will help the staff be prepared if your loved one has an outburst, wanders, or displays surprising behavior.
- Make Sure All Cell Phones Are Charged – Communication is incredibly important, especially if your loved one wanders and becomes lost. Make sure he or she has a fully charged cell phone with your numbers pre-programmed into the phone. Don’t forget about making sure that your own phone is charged! You’ll want to be able to receive any call that comes.
- Pack a Comfortable Change of Clothes – It never hurts to bring extra clothes. Your loved one may feel too warm or too cold and need to take off or put on clothing. They could also experience a bladder accident or spill a drink on their clothes and need to change. If your loved one wears adult briefs, always bring extras, as well as other appropriate provisions.
- Pack Snacks and Drinks – Your loved one may not be able to communicate that he or she is hungry or thirsty or may not even realize that he or she is dehydrated. If your loved one exhibits frustration and/or agitation, a drink or snack might be the solution.
- Keeping Important Paperwork Handy – It is a good idea to keep copies of your loved one’s insurance information as well as legal paperwork, like your loved one’s will, advanced directives, and power of attorney with you. It may seem strange to bring this with you on an outing, but you may need it if your loved one becomes injured or ill. Consider keeping copies of this paperwork in your car during the trip or e-copies on your phone for reference.
- Always Have a Plan B – Finally, you should always have a Plan B in mind in case your original plans don’t work out. Part of the reality of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia is that they can be unpredictable. Life can be unpredictable too! Maybe the peaceful park where you were planning to have a picnic is hosting a loud concert that you didn’t know about, or maybe your loved one starts to become loud and disruptive during a group activity. Whatever happens, keep a Plan B in mind. Maybe instead of going to the park or doing the group activity, you can go to an ice cream shop instead!
We encourage you to review this going-out checklist before each outing with your loved one. When you are prepared, you can increase your chances of having a fun and wonderful time with your family member or friend!
If you want some ideas of activities you can do with your loved one, take a look at our previous blog posts or join us for our next monthly support group for family members and caregivers.
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Categories: Memory Care