With the government’s recent announcement that those who have been shielding can now go outside for exercise, you may be wondering if now is the time to take your loved one to some of their favourite old haunts. Many are desperate for a change of scenery or to find new activities to enliven dulled senses and emotions.
As ever, with coronavirus everything is new territory, so the watchword here is ‘caution’. For those who have no other underlying health issues except dementia, a trip out in the car to a beauty spot for a short stroll may be possible – but do your research first. We have all seen the newspaper photographs of crowded beaches where social distancing is impossible – in these cases it would be best to avoid. You could, though, consider visiting at less popular times of day – very early in the morning or late afternoon are likely to be easier in terms of fewer people being around; and of course, choosing a less-perfect weather day will also make all the difference.
It may be that a gentle walk around the block is enough to give your loved one a new sense of freedom. Again, try to choose a time when fewer people will be around and make sure that you are always on hand to gently steer your loved one away from other pedestrians to try to keep up social distancing.
For those who really do need to stay at home though, maybe consider changing whatever small bits of exercise your loved one has been doing. If they are used to pottering in the garden, try an online exercise class. If they are already doing an online class, hunt around for some new ones – perhaps have a look at our online resources to find something that suits you? A good place to start is our booklet Activities for older adults during Covid 19 – you can find that here.
Lastly, please remember that the best advice is to be more cautious than you think you need to be. As someone said at the beginning of lockdown, we will never know if we over-reacted with our lockdown, but we will certainly know if we under-reacted. Because older adults are so much more at risk from Covid 19 it means that almost all those with dementia will be in high-risk groups. Take extra care to minimise contact with others outside your household. Staying at home as much as possible is still the easiest way to do this.