There has always been something remarkable about leaving the confines of your home and eating a meal outdoors, and when summer comes we’re reminded of just how much time we’ve been inside.
July is Picnic Month which celebrates the history of eating outside and at our Devon Care Home, Sundial, the Care Team and residents, whom they refer to as family members, are putting on their sunglasses and making tasty sandwiches in readiness for it.
Living with dementia can alter the relationship a person has with food and may mean having a reduced appetite, or simply forgetting to eat, unless reminded.
Over time, food may not taste like it did before and sensory changes and an altered ability to smell and taste food can impact on enjoyment of mealtimes, which makes having small adventures like going outside to eat, all the more important.
We call those we care for, family members, and we encourage anyone that likes to help, to get involved in the picnic food preparation, too. For example, helping to prepare a fruit salad by washing and peeling the fruit, or helping put fillings in the sandwiches. Activities like these increase involvement and enhances the enjoyment experienced of the picnic itself.
There are other benefits, too. Evidence indicates that going outside just a few times a week, for people living with dementia, can result in an improvement in ability to communicate. What’s more, a study by Professor Richard Ryan suggested that elderly people who get outside on a regular basis, feel less tired. His report states that an astonishing 90% of people feel more energised after connecting with nature. So, our advice is, instead of switching on a TV, put on some sunscreen, make some sandwiches and eat outside instead.