Remaining active throughout the winter and being in the daylight is known to boost health and well-being and support the body’s natural rhythms.
Some 850,000 people are living with dementia across the UK and as winter looms, the charity is calling on them to keep busy despite the longer nights and gloomier weather.
Kathryn Smith, Alzheimer’s Society director of operations said: ‚ÄúIndoor home comforts are very alluring when winter arrives but we’d urge people with dementia and their carers to get out and about in the daylight, even if it’s just to potter around in the back garden.
‚ÄúIt’s not only good for the person with dementia because they are likely to feel better and sleep better but it’s good for the carer because a good night’s rest is the best way of re-charging batteries and reducing stress.‚Äù
People with dementia may have trouble getting to sleep and the condition can affect their body clocks.
Keeping busy outdoors and breathing in the fresh air and soaking up the daylight can help a person with dementia to sleep at night because they are physically more tired and more in tune with the rhythms of the day.
As well as meeting emotional needs, exercise can improve memory and slow down mental decline and it has other benefits such as increasing mood, strengthening muscles and increasing mobility.
Rosemary O’Neill, whose husband Sean has dementia, is always keen to get out-and-about throughout the winter.
‚ÄúSean’s always been keen on his gardening which is great but that’s limited through the dark months due to weather,‚Äù said Mrs O’Neill who lives in South Tyneside.
‚ÄúI find keeping it simple works best and things like going for a nice little walk can occupy Sean. I also take his photo when we are out to start doing an activities album because it will help us reminisce.
‚ÄúNon-league football is big in our part of the world and so I’m also intending to look for local outdoor football matches that are on and take him there because he’s always been a big football fan come rain or shine.‚Äù
In a bid to encourage outdoor pursuits, Alzheimer’s Society has drawn up a list of their top-five recommendations for outdoor pastimes to stimulate the senses, boost people’s physical condition and maintain health sleep patterns.
‚Ä¢ Gardening – there’s always work to be done in the garden and raised beds are ideal for people with mobility problems.
‚Ä¢ Feeding birds and other animals – interacting with animals can help with anxiety and reduce blood pressure in people with dementia.
‚Ä¢ Walking and talking – keeping socially active is good for mood and well-being, reduces isolation and may foster a sense of belonging and can improve mood.
‚Ä¢ Playing with pets – they say dog is a man’s best friend with good reason and those faithful servants will always lift the spirits and wear out their owners.
‚Ä¢ A visit to a park or garden – outdoor environments such as gardens can also be calming and improve mood as can a reading session with friends in your back garden.
Alzheimer’s Society has a range of tips for remaining active as a person’s dementia develops and a factsheet can be downloaded or ordered through its website alzheimers.org.uk/factsheet/521