Fun Summer Activities For Seniors With Alzheimer’s Disease

Laurel McLaughlin

The summer isn’t over yet! There’s still time to get out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air with your loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, or another type of dementia. 

With your loved one’s diagnosis, their ability to do favorite activities may have shifted, but there are still plenty of ways to have fun and spend quality time together.

Understanding the Progression of Dementia

People with dementia experience a progression of symptoms including memory loss, changes in executive functions, difficulty regulating emotion, and changes in communication capabilities. Regardless of what symptoms your loved one is experiencing, research shows that physical activity, socialization, and engagement are beneficial to a person living with dementia.

Depending on the stage of their disease will determine how much of an activity they are able to do, independently. 

For example, individuals in the early stages of the disease may enjoy more active activities- like going to the beach. However, individuals in the late stages may enjoy and benefit from a hand massage on the patio. 

As a caregiver, it’s important to consider where your loved one is within the disease progression. However, regardless of the stage of dementia, stimulating activities are crucial to supporting cognitive abilities. 

Be willing to adapt if you notice your loved one is struggling and move on to a new activity. Dementia activities should be stress-free for both you, as well as your loved one.

A List Of Outdoor & Indoor Summer Activities 

Just because it’s the summertime, doesn’t mean you and your loved one have to go outside to have fun.

Below are some outdoor and indoor activity ideas to enjoy with your loved one during the dog days of summer.

Outdoor Summer Activities:

Incorporating time outdoors into your loved one’s daily routine is so important. Vitamin D and fresh air can encourage physical activity and improve overall mood and quality of life. Let's review a few outdoor summer activities to enjoy with your loved one:

Enjoy A Meal Outdoors

Maintaining your loved one’s regular routine is important, but making small changes such as enjoying a meal outdoors increases your loved one’s access to fresh air and Vitamin D. 

Relax & Listen To Music On The Patio

Time and again music has been shown to be beneficial for people living with Alzheimer’s. Whether it’s being used to set a mood or to encourage reminiscing, music has the power to evoke emotions and spark conversation. 

Play A Game Outside

Cognitive stimulation is key for people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Taking one of your loved one’s favorite activities outdoors is a great way to maintain cognitive stimulation while taking advantage of the nice weather. 

Check Out Your Local Farmer’s Market

Going to a farmer’s market or picking out your own produce allows your loved one to be involved in meal preparation, increasing feelings of purposefulness.

It can be common for people to struggle with finding meaningful activities, but something like this is purposeful, has physical activity, and is a great way to make new memories! 

When outside, don’t forget to keep your loved one hydrated with sun lotion! Your loved one may not remember these things on their own so it will be up to you to monitor hydration and sun exposure.

Whether at home or out in the community, keep in mind that people living with Alzheimer’s may have an increased risk of wandering in the nicer weather. Staying active together can reduce this risk. 

Indoor Summer Activities:

It’s important to keep in mind that older adults may be more prone to dehydration, and people living with Alzheimer’s may not notice they are overheating.

Have some activities on hand to do inside if the heat gets too much. 

Maintaining a routine is key, and incorporating purposeful household activities into the daily schedule keeps your loved one active and engaged, at many stages of the disease. 

Some activities might be assisting with meal preparation (as safe to do so), folding laundry, or organization. Here are a few more to consider:

Introduce Your Loved One To Aromatherapy 

Aromatherapy activates the olfactory senses which can be a powerful tool for reminiscing and even for managing moods. Invoking a variety of sensory activities focuses on different parts of the brain for the person with dementia.

Create Your Own Sing-Along!

Putting on some favorite music and singing together is an excellent way to connect and create memories with your loved one. Music is a way to encourage self-expression as well!

Go To A Museum

Museums encourage physical activity through walking, as well as cognitive stimulation.

Several museums have programs specifically designed for people living with Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one struggles with leaving the home, check out a virtual museum tour online. 

Look Through Old Photo Albums

Depending on your loved one’s abilities, perusing family photos or creating a scrapbook can be a meaningful project for your loved one. Going through photo albums of friends and family members may inspire your loved one to remember fun events and reminisce about the past.

Photos act as visual cues and reminders to people living with Alzheimer’s. 

Finding meaningful activities is always important and the summer can open up opportunities for this. Having a sense of accomplishment is a key component of quality of life. 

Create A Daily Routine For Your Loved One

Routine is so beneficial to dementia patients. Creating a routine of sensory stimulation has a positive impact on your loved one’s quality of life and cognition. Think about one activity a day that invokes each of the senses- taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch.

 Additionally, think about the different types of activities like physical, social, emotional, and cognitive. 

Thinking about these different components leads to a well-rounded daily life.

Why Building A Care Team For Your Loved One Matters

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult and maintaining a schedule of stimulating activities can add to that difficulty.

Between managing healthcare appointments and household tasks, finding additional time to keep your loved one active and entertained can be tough.

To increase support for both you and your loved one, explore senior care with memory care options such as:

  • Adult day programs with dementia care.

  • Coordinating with family members and friends who can provide respite.

  • Work with a local home care agency that could provide carers to spend time with your loved one.

Not only will adding other people to your loved one’s routine help you as the caregiver improve your well-being, but it will also increase socialization for your loved one.

With nicer weather and freer schedules, the summer can open up opportunities to try different activities for meaningful engagement for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease. This summer, try something new and create new memories with your loved one.