Benefits of the Outdoors When Living with Dementia

As we age, our mobility and time spent outdoors can diminish, and whilst extra care may be necessary, spending time in the outdoors can hold many benefits, especially for someone living with dementia. Here we will explore some of the many benefits of exploring the outdoors along with some ideas for dementia friendly activities.  

Reminiscence

Quite often our memories are linked to a specific place, therefore visiting somewhere which is familiar to your loved one may help to spark memories. Places such as the seaside or a park they used to visit as a child can be excellent for aiding reminiscence, as the mix of familiar sights, scents and sounds may bring your loved one back to a time they remember fondly.

Why not visit somewhere familiar with your loved one and start a conversation surrounding memories of that place to encourage conversation? Once back indoors, an added activity could involve showing your loved one photos of them in the same location to encourage further reminiscence.

Sensory Exploration

The outdoors is a fantastic platform for multi-sensory exploration. As we age, it can be common that our senses may decline, therefore it’s important to explore a range of activities for people with dementia which will stimulate and engage the senses.

Try engaging your loved one in activities such as gardening, which with the sights and scents of the flowers, mixed with the feel of petals and the sounds of nature around provide a fantastic multi-sensory experience.

Exercise

Physical wellbeing is a vital part to staying healthy so it’s important to maintain a level of exercise as we age, whether that is going for a jog in the park, a walk around the gardens or exploring other options such as seated exercises. Exercising outdoors has been shown to reduce depression and improve mood as well as getting a healthy dose of vitamin D.

Socialisation

Loneliness can be common in older people, and especially those who may struggle to remember or communicate effectively. There are many different ways to encourage socialisation, and spending time outdoors can be a fantastic way to encourage someone who may be feeling lonely to express themselves. Activities such as setting up a gardening station where people can plant together or simply a place where they can sit and enjoy a view surrounded by nature can be excellent for sparking conversations.

There are many benefits to exploring the outdoors for someone living with dementia, and a variety of different activities which can help to improve everyday wellbeing. It’s important as we age that we still have the same access to the outdoors, even with limited mobility.

Amy Smith

Amy is a London-based art, travel & wellness writer.

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