For many, summer can be for good times and tan lines. For the person caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia, it can mean a season of safety challenges. Here are a few helpful tips to keep everyone “cool” in the summer heat:
Embrace the shade: Limit your loved one’s exposure to the sun, and encourage them to wear a hat and sunglasses. Stay indoors in the middle of the day, when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Place chairs and picnic tables in shaded areas.
Keep track of time: Set reminders to apply and reapply sunscreen when outside for extended periods of time. Use these reminders to stay hydrated too! Always keep a glass of water in a spot that’s easy to reach.
Pre-plan: Decision making may be difficult so dressing appropriately for hot days can be hard. Store your loved one’s winter clothes, and replace them with cooler clothing for summer. Place breathable clothing out ahead of time, for easy decision making!
Family Fun: Loud noises and crowds can increase anxiety. Identify a “buddy” so you don’t lose track of who was supposed to stay with your loved one. Stay with them at all times and watch for signs of discomfort or confusion. Family reunions can be especially overwhelming to a person with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. Consider limiting the amount of visitors and prepare all family members for a visit. Try using fun name tags and get everyone involved to reduce embarrassment for the person struggling with names. Make sure there is a peaceful place to rest if things become overwhelming.
Travel Tips: Many families plan vacations and trips during the summer. New and unfamiliar places can be confusing for the person with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. Consider simplifying travel plans or visiting a familiar destination. Many airlines offer companion programs for those traveling with special needs.
Summer Sports: If your loved one still enjoys walking or bicycling, consider accompanying them for the ride! Encourage your loved one to wear a helmet and to ride on trails designated for pedestrians and cyclists. Do not allow loved ones with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to swim unsupervised, and do not leave children in the pool under their supervision, even for a short period of time.
In the Yard: Keep an eye on sharp gardening shears or tools and closely monitor their use. Use fertilizers that are not harmful if swallowed accidentally and ensure that plants are not poisonous. Never allow unsupervised access to fire pits, and the hot surfaces of BBQ grills or campfires.
Remember, while the tan lines may fade, the memories will last forever. Wishing you a safe and fun-filled summer!
Lisa Vogel is the owner and founder of The Lisa Vogel Agency (www.lisavogelagency.com), an in-home care provider based in Stevenson, Maryland.