Seniors with dementia can benefit from occasional social outings, including dining out at a local restaurant. The right preparation will help you and your loved one have an enjoyable experience.
Dining Out With a Senior Who Has Dementia
Give the following suggestions a try to help your whole family enjoy dining out together.
Choose someplace familiar and accessible.
Visit a familiar restaurant that serves meals your loved one likes and finds easy to eat.
If your family member requires help in the restroom, choose a restaurant with convenient bathrooms. If your loved one is prone to anxiety and needs to feel sheltered, seek out a restaurant with booths that offer more privacy
Eat at a time that coincides with your loved one’s normal meal schedule, and avoid hours when their dementia symptoms are usually worse.
Create an emergency kit.
It is better to be too prepared than to be caught by surprise, so make a checklist of things to do and bring when going out to eat. Here are a few ideas:
- Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
- Bring insurance papers, emergency contacts, and medication lists. It may sound excessive, but it can be a relief in an emergency.
- Consider a change of clothes in case your loved one has an accident in the bathroom, spills food, or just gets cold.
Alert the restaurant staff to your loved one’s needs.
If you go out regularly with your loved one, it may help to print up small cards with information that you can give to staff at restaurants and shops you visit. It can be as simple as, “My loved one has dementia and may behave in unexpected ways. Thank you for your understanding.”
Calling the restaurant ahead of time for special accommodations, such as a particular table or dietary needs, is also helpful.
Understand what their behavior means.
If your loved one becomes agitated, your first instinct may be to take them home immediately. This may not be necessary once you understand the behavior.
Many individuals with dementia ask to “go home”–even if they are home. Ask your loved one why they have to go home. They may need the comfort of home, or think they have to do chores. Don’t try to argue; instead, offer them reassurance, and try to redirect their attention.
Seniors with dementia are prone to wandering for many reasons. Your loved one may be confused by the unfamiliar environment. They may be trying to ease pain or discomfort. Stay beside them at all times when you are out of the house.
Need extra help?
If visiting restaurants is no longer an option for your loved one and you are struggling to manage their care on your own, it might be time to consider a memory care program.
Specialized dementia care programs, such as those at Heritage Senior Communities, allow adults with dementia to live their best quality of life. Residents of our dementia care programs participate in guided life enrichment activities and wellness events designed to help them feel independent and empowered.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide your loved one with quality care, while giving you peace of mind.