The thought of taking your loved one with dementia out for the day may be daunting - however, it doesn't need to be. With a good dose of planning and preparation, a day-trip can be an uplifting way to spend quality time together. If your loved one spends a lot of time indoors or is unable to travel independently, this will be a welcome change of scenery, and can have positive effects on their health and wellbeing.
If your relative doesn't feel confident about leaving the home, involving them in the planning of a day out can help to reduce feelings of anxiety, and will help to promote their independence. Their suggestions may be unexpected, but could also end up being incredibly fun! Importantly, whatever you choose to do, try to let go of your expectations of how the day will go. Plans may need to change last minute due to changes in mood, health challenges, fatigue, or something else - but that's ok. You can try again next time, and this experience may help you to tweak your plans.
We've rounded up some suggestions for dementia-friendly days out that you may wish to consider suggesting to your loved one. We'd love to know what you end up trying, or if you have any other ideas.
Sometimes, the most enjoyable days are the most simple. Visiting a local cafe for tea and cake can be a thoroughly lovely trip out. Whether you're revisiting a local favourite or choosing somewhere new with a warm atmosphere, this can be a brilliant way to spend an afternoon. Some people with dementia may find it difficult to process information, so quieter cafes can be a safer option.
Going out to the local shop, a florist, or garden centre, can all be equally enjoyable activities, and can help to give your loved one a sense of purpose.
Exploring nature can do wonders for mood and wellbeing. It doesn't mean that you have to go on a lengthy hike - taking a stroll through the local park or woodland helps your loved one to get some fresh air whilst enjoying gentle exercise at the same time.
When planning where to go, check that there will be toilet facilities nearby. If your loved one has problems with their mobility or tires easily, making sure that there will be benches along the way means you'll always have regular checkpoints.
Museums and galleries can sometimes be a little chaotic - especially during weekends, but if you pick a good time to go, they can be a calming, interesting way to spend the day. There are often seats throughout the building so that you can sit and enjoy the artefacts in each room, and generally you're able to go by your own schedule - with no obligation to cover every single room or go at a certain pace.
Some museums and galleries have dementia friendly programmes on offer, or will have trained their staff to be able to support those living with dementia. Opting for places that are specific to your loved one's interests can help to spark memories and conversations.
Look out for carers' discounts that may be available at the places you're planning to visit, and get in touch with the venue beforehand to check whether there is anything you need to bring as proof, in order to get some money off.
If you'd have a particular idea for a day out that you'd like to run past us, please don't hesitate to reach out to us to talk it through. We may be able to support with accompanying your loved one, or can help you to weigh up the practical and emotional aspects so that you can be fully prepared before your trip.