When the weather is nice, the nursing home sometimes has a cookout on the patio for the residents. I decided to bring my mom down and have a change of scenery. Fresh air was very nice. My stress level dropped a lot just being outside. Being inside all the time can take a toll. Some variety is really good.

We found a table a little out of the way so she wasn’t over-stimulated. She was a little confused because this was different than her normal schedule. I made it into a fun little adventure, though. I pointed out the green grass, some flowers nearby, the leaves in the trees. I pointed out the sun (even though she preferred the shade). She calmed down pretty soon and started to enjoy herself.

We stayed outside a long time. I sat and ate with her, helping her with her food. I answered endless questions, many of them repeated. I listened in seemingly rapt attention as she told stories that made no sense. It was nice. I was thinking that I would very much enjoy all the cookouts and would make sure my mom went to every one of them if I could.

Please try and introduce some variety in your loved one’s routine. It does help, and will help them to break out of some of the habits they develop when being on the same schedule every day. Yes, consistency is good, but as they say “variety is the spice of life” and that is true with dementia patients also. They will enjoy the normalcy of something as simple as this. It might spark some memories in them. It might also give you a moment to feel a little more like things are not so “clinical.”


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