Hot summer weather is a real treat but it can also be an uncomfortable and unsettling time for people who are living with dementia. Alongside all the standard advice for keeping cool how can you use the creative activities that you are planning to help the people you support feel as calm and comfortable as possible on hot days?
Image Credit: Roshana Rubin Mayhew
Mood: When it is really hot think of making use of calm, steady activities to lower the pace and cool things down. Something like a gentle balloon bounce game can work really well, backed with calming music, or a puzzle or game to work on together. Any activity making and moving fans can also work well.
Longer Activities: Try to schedule longer activities with a slower pace that people can ease into and focus on for a period of time. The trick is to do this whilst keeping the activity flexible enough that people can drop in and out relatively easily so that participants are able to come and go as they please. You could try making a summer themed collage as a group, or doing something slow and tactile like modelling clay, then painting it.
Time of Day: The times that you normally schedule certain activities may not work when it is very hot. People may want to rest and sleep more at the hottest parts of the day so could you respond to this by running activities early in the morning, or later in the evening when it is much cooler?
Refreshing Food: Can you use activities to encourage participants to eat / drink cooling foods? For example ice lollies or slices of cucumber. Somebody may be more inclined to try something different as part of an activity that may not appeal to them in another context. Could you do this through a simple food preparation activity like mixing juices to make your own lollies? Or through food sampling to create poetry or creative writing.
Gentle, Calm and Fun: Never underestimate how beneficial and successful something really simple can be, like reading poetry together or listening to some music. Find times in each day for gentle calming activities that you can share with groups or individuals. Create calming playlists to explore together and, if you don’t want to read yourself, find talking books and radio plays that will suit the mellow summer mood.