Summer is in full swing and with the warm weather and long days comes much-anticipated family get-togethers. If you have loved ones who experience memory loss, it can be challenging to ensure that they remain involved or included in activities they always look forward to.
In my most recent Huffington Post blog, I detail some tips on how to continue including loved ones with memory loss in your family summer events. Whether you have a favorite vacation spot, annual party or even a simple summer meal that you love, continuing those treasured traditions benefits the whole family.
As you begin to plan your summer activity, sit down with your loved one and reminisce about memories regarding the event or perhaps their favorite past summers. This will help you in determining what events or activities will make the strongest impression. If it is not possible to reconstruct a treasured memory, try to incorporate little things – a favorite meal, an older photograph, a story – that will bring the memory alive.
As you head out on your annual vacation or begin the drive to your family reunion, it is important to think about ways to modify some of the activities to enable your loved one with memory loss to remain engaged. Even though they have memory loss or other physical signs of aging they can still participate in the family fun, especially if you plan those activities around their preferences. Adapt the games you may play to fit their physical ability – such as substituting a balloon for a heavier ball during a game of badminton or volleyball – will allow everyone to enjoy the event. Also ensure that they have a shaded place to sit and plenty of water to drink and try to reduce noise, crowds and stress as much as possible.
If your loved one is uncomfortable with new or different surroundings you can always bring the event to them. At Sunrise Senior Living we promote quarterly family events such as outdoor barbeques with games so family members can enjoy time with their loved ones in a familiar environment.
Remember, it is not always critical to relive every tradition. Pick and choose the ones that will bring your family the most joy and concentrate on modifying those events to fit the lifestyles of all involved. You will soon create new memories to hold on to.