Going on Outings When Your Loved One Has Alzheimer’s

For many people in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease, getting out and about can reduce agitation and boredom, improve sleep, and provide a mood boost. Going outside the home can also lessen the sense of isolation often experienced by people with memory loss.

But changes to your loved one’s abilities and behavior may make this a challenge.

Here are three things to consider when planning an outing with a person who has Alzheimer’s disease or a related condition:

Is it a good time? Your loved one may be more alert and calm during certain times of the day, so plan outings around what you know about his or her daily rhythms. If the day arrives and your loved one isn’t having a good day, postpone for another time. And choose events and activities that allow for a flexible schedule, so if your loved one becomes tired or distressed, you can leave for home.

Is it a good destination? For people with Alzheimer’s, places that are familiar, calm and without large crowds are usually best. Your loved one might enjoy a trip to the ice cream store, a walk in the park, a visit to his or her faith community, or a short trip to a museum, art gallery or farmer’s market. Choose destinations where it isn’t necessary to sit still or remain silent for long periods. And avoid an overload of sensory stimulation that could be upsetting and confusing.

What about other people? Explain to friends and family about your loved one’s condition, and share any information that will help the visit or outing be a success. The Alzheimer’s Disease Education Referral Center also suggests that when you are out among strangers, you can bring along pre-printed business-type cards with wording like this to make outings more comfortable for everyone:

My family member has Alzheimer’s disease. He might say or do things that are unexpected. Thank you for your understanding.

As your loved one’s family caregiver, you are in the best position to judge whether an outing is “working” or not. And remember, spending pleasant time together is the most meaningful aspect of the trip.

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