Helpful tips to help those suffering from memory care issues enjoy the summer months.
Bill Anderson: Grand Brook Memory Care
As the temperatures start to climb towards the triple digits many of us start thinking about ways to stay cool: finding an air-conditioned room, swimming, applying sunscreen, drinking something cold and dressing for the day. For those living with Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia, the ability to formulate a plan to beat the heat is compromised. This is where some extra forethought and action by a caregiver can lead to the enjoyment and benefits of getting out of the house during those hot summer months.
One suggestion is to create an inviting safety zone. The goal is to create a safe enough set up to soak up some vitamin D and smell the outdoor aromas of fresh cut grass, flowers and other summer scents without getting sunburned or overheated. Set up a large weighted umbrella that tilts with the moving sun or have a patio cover/awning installed that can handle those windy days. Choose comfortable furniture that will not get hot to the touch (non-metalic). I would suggest brightly colored, sturdy furniture such as wicker or pieces that will not move when sitting down or getting up. Once the furniture is in place, add a hydration station with cranberry juice, tea or ice-water with iranges/lime/lemon slices. The key is to make it attractive enough to initiate a self-serve action. Once there is a covered area with comfortable furniture and access to a cold drink the safety zone basics have been met! The fun part now is to customize the safety zone for your loved one so it fits his/her interests and needs.
Another area that requires attention is having appropriate attire to choose from on those hot days. When walking from a 65 degree air conditioned living room to a 90 degree outdoor patio, a change of clothing is often in order. A visit to the bedroom closet and dresser drawers will make life much easier and safer by switching out that winter/spring wardrobe with a summer wardrobe. By limiting the choices to summer clothing the worst thing that can happen is to find mom wearing something you do not want her to wear in public. Remember style and color matching are not always a priority at this point. In many of your situations your just glad mom is wearing something. This simple wardrobe switch will help to keep mom’s body temp down when she sits outside a little longer than what she should have. By keeping the inside and outside temperatures as close as comfortably possible the risk of wearing warm clothing outside can be further avoided.
The overall key to keeping loved ones living with dementia safe during the summer is to remember their diminished reasoning capabilities when creating this environment and provide assistance where needed. With the right plan in place and the appropriate supervision, those living with dementia can continue to gain the benefits of outdoor living.