Alzheimer's Caregiving Tips: Going Out

People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may still enjoy going out to places they enjoyed in the past. For example, the person might enjoy going to a favorite restaurant, park, shopping mall, swimming pool, museum, or theater. Keep going on these outings as long as you are comfortable with them.  Here, from the experts at the National Institute on Aging, are some suggestions on making these outings as easy as possible:

Plan Ahead for Outings

Schedule outings for the time of day when the person with Alzheimer’s is at his or her best.

Keep outings from becoming too long. Take note of how tired the person gets after a certain amount of time. Bring the person home before he or she becomes overtired.

Use a business-size card to tell others about the person’s disease. Sharing this information with store clerks or restaurant staff can make outings more comfortable for everyone. For example: “My family member has Alzheimer’s disease. He might say or do things that are unexpected. Thank you for your understanding.”

Eating Out

Going out to eat can be a welcome change, but it can also be challenging. Planning can help. Before choosing a restaurant, think about its layout, menu, noise level, waiting times, and the helpfulness of the staff. Ask yourself:

Does the person with Alzheimer’s disease know the restaurant well?

Is it quiet or noisy most of the time?

Are tables easy to get to? Do you need to wait before being seated?

Is the service quick enough to keep the person from getting restless?

Does the restroom meet the person’s needs?

Are foods the person with Alzheimer’s likes on the menu?

Is the staff understanding and helpful?

Before going to the restaurant, decide if it is a good day to go. If it is, think about the best time to go. Earlier in the day may be best, so the person with Alzheimer’s is not too tired. Also, the restaurant may be less crowded, and service may be quicker. If you decide to go later, try to get the person to take a nap first.

Before you leave home, gather what you need. Helpful items may include utensils, a towel, wipes, or bathroom items.

At the restaurant, tell the waiter or waitress about any special needs, such as extra spoons, bowls, or napkins.

Ask for a table near the restroom and in a quiet area. Seat the person with his or her back to busy areas.

Help the person choose a meal, if needed. Suggest food you know the person likes. Read parts of the menu or show the person pictures of the food. Limit the number of choices.

Ask the server to fill glasses half full or leave the drinks for you to serve.

Order finger food or snacks to hold the attention of the person with Alzheimer’s.

Go with the person to the restroom. Go into the stall if the person needs help.

Reprinted with permission from the National Institute on Aging. For more information on Alzheimer’s and caregiving, click here.

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