Helping your elderly loved one get out of the house (or assisted living facility) is great for their physical and mental health. While there are special considerations that you need to account for when taking out your senior relatives, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Follow these 10 steps to plan an outing for your elderly loved one, from preparing your car to deciding what adaptive clothing they should wear:
Keep Their Abilities In Mind.
Even if your loved one is in pretty good physical and cognitive health, they will still probably get tired more easily than they used to. They may also have limitations that mean they can’t move around freely or need to keep social outings short and sweet. When brainstorming ideas for possible events, keep your loved one’s abilities in mind, and don’t plan for something they can’t handle. Consider taking a walker or wheelchair to conserve their strength even if they don’t use one regularly.
Tailor It To Their Interest
Your loved one might not get out as much as they used to, which is why this is the perfect opportunity to help them enjoy some of their favorite activities. If they enjoy learning about history or art, take them to a museum. If they enjoy sports, take them to see a local team play. If they like experiencing new cuisines, take them to a new restaurant.
Try To Go To Off-Peak Times.
Dealing with pushy crowds and waiting in line will stress almost anybody out. To minimize the stress on both your loved one and yourself, try to go on off-peak days or times to miss the worst of the crowds. Also, consider your loved one’s daily routines; for example, many dementia patients are calmer in the daytime than they are in the evenings, which means that a morning or early afternoon outing is your best bet to avoid upsetting them.
Plan For The Weather
Elderly people are more susceptible to both cold and hot temperatures, which means that inclement weather can make them quite miserable. Look ahead to the forecast and try to choose a day for your outing when the weather is nice. If you plan to do something outside, have a backup plan ready in case you need to move things indoors because of precipitation or extreme temperatures.
Dress Them Comfortably
Speaking of the weather, you should dress your loved one for the temperature; use several light layers of dementia clothing if necessary so they can take some off if they get overheated. If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s which leads to involuntary disrobing, you might want to put them in an anti-strip jumpsuit to prevent them from taking off their clothes in public. Be sure they wear protective shoes with non-skid soles to keep their feet safe from injury during the outing.
Get Your Car Ready
If you plan to drive your elderly loved one in your own vehicle, prepare it ahead of time. Start by cleaning out the car and putting all clutter away so they can have easy access to their seat. You might also need to accessorize your car with some items that can make the ride more comfortable for them. For instance, a seat belt cushion will help to alleviate pressure on their neck, while a car door assist handle will help them get in and out of the vehicle.
Gather Your Things
Prepare a bag with everything that you might need during the outing. This includes any medications and emergency contact info, as well as incontinence items and a change of clothes for your loved one just in case. You should bring plenty of water and snacks for both of you in addition to identification and tickets for whatever event or venue you are visiting.
Prepare Everyone For The Visit
Even if your loved one has dementia, you should still prepare them for the outing during one of their lucid periods if possible. Let them know what to expect, what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be going, and how long you’ll be gone. If you are bringing your kids or other loved ones with you, you should also prepare them for what to expect as well. If you need special accommodations for your loved one, you can call ahead to your destination to see if they will be able to work with you to make your loved one comfortable.
Be Flexible And Stay Calm
Going on an outing with an elderly loved one can sometimes be frustrating, especially if they become agitated or don’t seem to appreciate what you’re doing for them. Do your best to stay calm and be flexible during the outing if you need to change plans on the fly. The point isn’t for you to check off items on a list; it’s for your loved one to get out of the house and have a good time — that’s the only thing that matters!
Keep things simple
When arranging the outing, plan to do less than you think your loved one can, especially if this is your first outing together. If your loved one does well, then you can look at spending more time together on your next outing. Leave lots of opportunities for breaks so they can rest, as well as extra time for transportation in case they have trouble getting in and out of the car.
What are your other top tips for planning a successful outing with your elderly loved ones? Let us know in the comments below!