Living With Dementia - Tips for Outings and Family Gatherings

By Kristine Cichowski, MS, CDP, CMDPC

Outings and family gatherings can be challenging for individuals living dementia. Consider the following tips to support and enable a hassle-free experience.

• Start with a new mindset…. Going out or attending an event doesn’t mean all or nothing at all. Activities may start or end early or take a new shape all together.

• Anticipate extra time needed to get ready, arrive at your destination, and navigating once there. Consider extra time for departure as well.

• Call ahead to ensure easy access, such as parking, ramped entrances, elevators, companion seating, and/or family bathrooms.

• Be mindful of tolerances for both physical and mental endurance, including sensory sensitivities. Stay alert to behavior triggers and address needs to minimize problems. Stay for a reasonable time or move to a quiet area, when needed.

• Have supplies on hand for unexpected situations, such as a change of undergarments, medications, and comfort items.

• Plan to provide or request support if you need to leave your loved one for any reason, such as retrieving your car.

• Be willing to try again. What didn’t work yesterday, may work today. Your loved one may have been experiencing a challenging day or perhaps your approach needed a slight change.

Even when memories fade, your presence is important and felt. Do your best to enjoy your time together and the company of others.

You can do it!

A comprehensive list of strategies to minimize challenging behaviors and support improved communication and interaction are described in Kristine’s book, Living With Dementia Doesn’t Mean You Stop Living. Now available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.