Keeping Cool and Staying Safe:
Tips for Individuals Living with Dementia During the Summer
It’s a beautiful time of year in the Lowcountry for those of us who are blessed to call this place home. As the summer season approaches, seniors with dementia and their families may face some unique challenges. While there are many opportunities for enjoyable activities, there are also some risks to be mindful of.
The heat and sunlight can cause discomfort, dehydration, and confusion, while changes in routine and increased social interactions can be overwhelming. However, with some planning and preparation, seniors with dementia can enjoy the season safely and happily. Here are some tips that may help:
Be Aware of Wandering
Warmer weather can increase the risk of wandering for those with dementia. Warmer temperatures can cause restlessness, dehydration, and confusion which can lead to wandering. Additionally, during the summer months, there may be more opportunities for seniors to leave their homes unattended, such as open windows, open doors, or more outdoor activities. Keep doors and windows locked, consider using motion sensors or alarms, keep them engaged with meaningful activities, consider using in home care services to provide supervision especially during times when they may be more prone to wander, and consider using ID bracelets or GPS trackers.
Stick to a Routine
Changes in routine can be particularly challenging for seniors with dementia, so try to maintain a predictable schedule as much as possible. This includes mealtimes, bedtime, and daily activities. If there are changes in the schedule, be sure to communicate with them in advance and provide plenty of reminders.
Plan Outdoor Activities Carefully
Although outdoor activities can be enjoyable, they can also be overwhelming and potentially dangerous for seniors with dementia. If you’re planning an outdoor activity, make sure to choose a time of day when the weather is cooler, and avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. Also, consider the level of activity and make sure it’s appropriate for their physical abilities.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Seniors with dementia may have difficulty dressing themselves, so choose clothing that’s easy to put on and take off. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton or linen is ideal for hot weather. Also, don’t forget to apply sunscreen and wear a hat when spending time outdoors.
Social isolation can be detrimental to seniors’ mental health, but social interactions can also be overwhelming for those with dementia. Encourage socialization in small groups and provide plenty of breaks to rest and recharge. Consider using technology to stay connected with family and friends who may live far away. Incorporating this into a daily routine may also be beneficial.
Consider In-Home Care
In-home care can be an essential resource for seniors and their families, particularly those with dementia during the summer months. Not all summertime activities are appropriate for your loved one; however, that doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on all your favorites. In home caregivers can ensure that your loved one remains safe and engaged while you enjoy time for activities that bring you joy also.
Enjoy the Season
Summer can be a challenging season for seniors with dementia, but with some planning and preparation, it’s possible to enjoy it safely and happily. Staying cool, being aware, sticking to a routine, wearing comfortable clothing, and staying connected are essential tips for seniors with dementia during the summer. By implementing these strategies, families and caregivers can help seniors with dementia maintain their health, happiness, and independence during the summer season.