Backyard Friendly Activities for Seniors with Dementia

As the last few weeks of summer draws to a close, you’ll likely want to make the most of what’s left of the long warm evenings and clear blue skies.

If you have a senior loved one in your life who’s living with dementia, there are plenty of safe and fun ways to involve them in some outdoor fun this August. Many experts in dementia care attribute leisure activities, hobbies, and social connectivity as key factors to joyful living for those living with the illness. So, here are some backyard-friendly activities for you to add to your loved one’s summer schedule.

Light Gardening

Tending to a green space is an easy and safe backyard activity for seniors living with dementia. Gardening is a slow-paced, relaxing outdoor hobby that can be as simple as watering plants, planting seeds in pots and clipping fresh flowers for a vase indoors. Despite its simplicity, the scents from familiar plants and fresh earth can conjure positive memories, and the satisfaction that comes with seeing seeds come to fruition is enormous.

A Family Picnic

Bringing the family together for a light summer picnic in the backyard is a lovely way to spend time with your favourite senior. Make it a stress-free, fuss-free affair by asking everyone to bring a dish and by sticking to the usual dining time of your loved one — keeping their daily routine on track.

Afternoon Tea

If your loved one prefers peaceful activities with less hubbub, why not plan an afternoon tea outdoors? You could sit in a shady area of the backyard, listening to birdsong while sipping from glasses of cool iced tea and dining on indulgent cakes and pastries.

An Outdoor Game

If you have the space, an outdoor game is an excellent way to spend a summer evening. Games like bocce or croquet, which have simple and straightforward rules, are ideal.

If your loved one struggles with strength or mobility, a simple game — like dominoes — at the patio table is still a nice way to spend time outdoors and engage their attention.

Relaxing on the Porch

Simply sitting on a porch with a hot cup of tea is a great, relaxing, and enjoyable way to spend time outdoors. Watching the birds in the trees, seeing dogs and their owners strolling by, saying hello to the mail carrier and watching the comings and goings of the neighbourhood can quickly fill an afternoon with entertainment.

Light Maintenance

Helping your loved one tend to their outdoor area can help them retain a sense of self and independence. Sweeping a porch and refilling bird feeders and bird baths are all pleasant outdoor activities that can help the senior in your life retain a sense of pride in their space while also taking advantage of the glorious summer weather.

Whatever activity you choose to take outdoors, remember sunscreen, hydration, and light and breezy clothing.

Know that depending on the stage of your loved one’s diagnosis, it might take some time and navigation to find activities — both indoor and out — that work for them and for you. Nothing needs to be perfect the first time around, so take your time, and you’ll be sure to find your groove.