Top Five San Diego Walks for Loved Ones with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

dreamstime_m_47123588Just because your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia doesn’t mean she is suddenly as fragile as a flower or no longer wants to get out of the house and stretch her legs. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia means that you might not be able to do exactly the same things with your loved one (that three-hour international film with sub-titles is probably out), but you still have a lot of activity options. One great way to spend time with your loved one is to simply get outside and walk! If you happen to live in San Diego, then you are in luck. Not only is the weather gorgeous nearly every day of the year, but our city is filled with beautiful trails, parks, beaches, and other excellent places to walk and explore. So, grab some water, sunscreen, and comfy tennis shoes. Here are our five top San Diego walks that make the perfect outing for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

1.      Lake Poway

If your loved one is fully mobile and at least moderately active, try out the Lake Poway trail. This 2.5-mile trail loops around Lake Poway, allowing you to take in sweeping views of the blue water below. This trail dips and climbs, so make sure your loved one can handle some challenging hills. You’ll also want to bring plenty of water.

You can access the Lake Poway Trail through the Lake Poway Park. If you are a resident of Poway, parking is free. If not, be prepared to pay $10 at the entrance to the park. The park includes restrooms, and the trail includes a few portable restrooms.

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2.      Lake Miramar

If you want to get a good workout but aren’t sure your loved one’s knees and hips can face off against up hills and downhills, try Lake Miramar instead. This completely flat, paved loop circles the lake and is almost 5 miles long. (If that’s too far, you can always walk a mile and then turn around to cut the walk short.) It offers peaceful views of the lake and local fauna.

On the weekend, Lake Miramar is bustling with walkers, joggers, cyclists, and even rollerbladers. Usually, there’s plenty of room for everyone. You’ll find restrooms at the beginning of the trail in front of the parking lot. Be aware that a good portion of the path does not include shade, and it can get pretty warm during summer and fall months. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

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3.      Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a cultural gem located just a few miles from the San Diego Airport. This massive park is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo as well as 17 museums, lush gardens, artist villages, and sweeping Spanish Colonial Buildings. It is a delight for all the senses. You’ll see gorgeous buildings, huge water fountains, and even a coy pond filled with beautiful coy fish. There are always new events, art, and showcases happening, so every time you go is a bit different. While you’re in the park, consider stopping by one of the museums to see a new exhibit or grabbing a bite to eat at an outdoor restaurant.

For all its fun activity, Balboa Park is a tourist magnet. It is usually humming every day of the week but is especially hectic during the weekend, when performers and vendors swoop in. If your loved one gets overwhelmed easily or is at risk of wandering, this is not a good option.

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4.      Mission Bay Park

Mission Bay Park is a highly unique park that incorporates Mission Bay, sandy beaches, and a stretch of park beyond. It includes over 27 miles of shoreline that attract walkers, joggers, and cyclists. You and your loved one can watch jet skiers zip across the water while young adults play volleyball on the warm sand. Around you, runners jog by to the beat in their headphones. The path around Mission Bay is flat and easy to walk, but make sure to bring your water and sunscreen.

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5.      The Beach

This is San Diego, so of course we have to mention the beach. The only problem is that San Diego has got so many amazing beaches, we can’t pick just one! Every San Diego beach has its own unique charm, and most of them include paths, boardwalks, or piers that make for excellent walking. At the beach, you’ll smell the tang of salt in the air while watching surfers bob in the water. The air will be filled with the lazy cry of seagulls and the rhythmic crash of waves on the sand. Here is a short list of San Diego’s top beaches.

If You Live Near Downtown San Diego:

  • Coronado Beach
  • Ocean Beach
  • La Jolla Beach
  • Mission Beach
  • Point Loma Beach
  • Torrey Pines

If You Live North of San Diego:

  • Del Mar Beach
  • Solana Beach
  • Encinitas Beach
  • Carlsbad Beach
  • Oceanside Beach

Time to Take a Walk

It is important for your loved one to stay active, and walking is always a great option for healthy exercise. It also gives you a great opportunity to spend time together and enjoy all the beauty that San Diego has to offer.

Looking for more idea activities for a loved one with Alzheimer’s? We invite you to our next monthly caregiver support group. It’s free and open to the public. We hope to see you there.

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