Dementia Care & the Benefits of Being Outside

Posted By on April 22, 2022

When it comes to dementia care, an increasing amount of research shows that outdoor activities can positively impact not only a person’s physical health but also their mental health.

At HarborChase Senior Living, we take pride in offering care communities specially designed to meet the unique needs of those impacted by dementia. For individuals living with mild dementia and short-term memory loss, our program, The Sound, delivers exceptional, compassionate care. And for those who need more focused, around-the-clock dementia care, we offer The Cove.

Whether you are caring for someone living with dementia at home or are considering a memory care community, we want to highlight the benefits of being outside for those living with dementia – that can be enjoyed wherever you are.

Physical Benefits

There are several physical benefits of being outside, which can also positively affect brain health. Even spending a short amount of time outside each day can help individuals living with dementia reap the positive impacts.

Fresh Air

There is an important distinction between indoor air and walking outside on a beautiful trail. Fresh air can revitalize a person, allowing their body to feel both invigorated and relaxed. Research has also found that fresh air can strengthen our lungs and improve sleep quality.

Vitamin D

Getting outside allows individuals living with dementia the chance to enjoy the sunshine – and, more importantly, get a daily dose of vitamin D. Studies show that regular consumption of vitamin D (which can be absorbed through exposure to sunlight) is key to our overall health.

Vitamin D is essential in absorbing calcium, helps regulate our immune systems to fight diseases, and can help with mood enhancement.

Cardiovascular Health

The Alzheimer’s Association says physical activity “not only protects the heart but improves cognitive function.” So by spending time outside, a person living with dementia can gain the benefits of a healthy heart, which will have lasting positive effects on other parts of the body, including the brain.

Mental Benefits

When it comes to providing effective and compassionate dementia care, it is important to recognize the physical and mental benefits of being outside.

Relieve Stress

When a person is living with dementia, changes in the brain can result in increased stress; spending time outside can help. By creating a routine that involves walking outside, being among beautiful trees or flowers, and experiencing the peacefulness of the natural world, you can help someone with dementia relieve their feelings of stress.

Reduce Agitation

Another benefit of being outside is that the outdoors can help reduce agitation. Just as dementia can increase stress levels, it can also make someone more prone to agitation and anger.

When providing dementia care, you want to remember that these expressions are not part of the person’s character. In many cases, signs of frustration are a person’s way of telling you that their needs are not being met.

You can help them with stress, agitation, and frustration by providing them with a safe outdoor environment. For many, being outdoors can be a calming outlet and a place where someone living with dementia can feel safe.

Safe Outdoor Activities

Although there are many benefits of being outside, you have to create a safe environment where someone living with dementia can enjoy the outdoors. Based on their cognitive and physical abilities, you could consider private spaces, public parks with wheelchair-accessible paths, or local gardens and arboretums.

Make a Routine

For a person living with dementia, routine is vital. Try as much as possible to create a routine for going outside. Do it at the same time each day, and go to familiar places with safe, well-lit walking paths.

Prevent Wandering

It’s common for a person living with dementia to wander or become lost or confused about their location. If you know that the person is susceptible to wandering, be sure they are comfortable with their surroundings and have a partner when they are spending time outdoors.

At HarborChase Senior Living, we provide dementia care services that respect and honor the needs of our residents. If you want to learn more about our specialized care communities or gain access to valuable resources for dementia care, we encourage you to visit our website.

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