Dementia and Summer Fun

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of dementia, there are a few things to consider before accepting an invitation this summer.

Graduation parties, wedding and baby showers, birthdays and BBQs, are invitations that seemingly promise fun.  If you are finding difficulty whether you should respond yes or no for your loved one with memory loss, there may be a few considerations.

While it is great to get out and have a good time, after all, you do deserve it, the hustle and bustle of such events can have adverse effects on those with memory loss. For the individual afflicted with dementia, the additional stress of trying to remember faces and names, along with being in an unfamiliar environment can create an increase in confusion and anxiety.

The following occurrences may cause agitation that result in aggressive behaviors for someone with cognitive impairment.  Before saying yes, consider the following:

  1. Overstimulation – Will there be loud noise levels, too much going on, or a fast paced environment?
  2. Frustrating interactions – Will particular people, the inability to communicate effectively, or the inability to make needs known cause the person to become agitated?
  3. Complicated tasks – Will the tasks, activities or conversations fit the individuals current ability so that the potential to cause embarrassment or humiliation can be reduced?
  4. Unfamiliar surroundings – Will the affair be held in a new or different location, creating a situation whereby the failure to recognize the environment or people may create unwanted behaviors?

If any one of these common situations are anticipated, you may reconsider whether the family outing is the best activity for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.  Often an out-of-routine event can spiral confusion, making for an unpleasant time for the individual with dementia, yourself, and the other guests as well.

If family feels it is best to include everyone, it may be helpful to pre-arrange for someone to be prepared to leave the event early to return the affected individual to a more familiar, quieter location should the event become too overwhelming.  Be prepared with redirection and distraction techniques, such a familiar music or a hand massage can help reduce stress.

The goal is for everyone to enjoy themselves in the manner in which they are best able.  Sharing photos and stories while relaxing on the couch with a cool iced tea may be the better choice for summer fun together.

 

 

 

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